Peter Hoskin

A bad deal | 7 February 2008

A bad deal | 7 February 2008
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On Tuesday it was tax credits.  And now the Public Accounts Committee delivers a boot to another of Gordon Brown's pet projects – the New Deal.  The findings should (but won't?) put pay to those claims that the UK's achieved “full employment”.  Some six million people now live in homes where “no-one has a job and 'benefits are a way of life'”.  Put another way: one-in-six households are now benefit dependent. 

And then there are the pots and pots of taxpayers' cash that have been used to reach this unedifying position.  Those households cost some £12.7 billion a year in public money.  One New Deal scheme  found jobs for only 61 people in a year, at a cost of £1,100 each.

The brand of welfare reform championed by David Freud gets more people into work and at a lower cost.  At last the Government is shifting to this approach, but maybe – as Melanie Phillips notes – we shouldn't expect much from them after a decade of disappointment over welfare.