Northern Ireland news

Stormont's failed Steps 2 Success employment scheme has cost £25m

The Steps 2 Success programme, which has failed to secure placements for 80% of participants, has cost £25 million since its introduction in 2014. Picture by Stephen Davison

A COMPLUSORY Stormont employment scheme which has failed to place four out of five jobseekers in work has cost more than £25m.

Steps 2 Success, launched in October 2014 to replace Steps to Work, is a mandatory scheme for those who have been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance for 12 months or more, or nine months for those under the age of 24.

The Irish News revealed last month that four out of five jobseekers on the programme have not found work, while of those who did secure employment, fewer than one in four were still in work six months on.

The Department for Communities did not list the cost of the programme in response to a request from The Irish News, but minister Paul Givan has now put the total at £25.6m since 2014.

The DUP minister disclosed the figures in response to a written assembly question from People Before Profit West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll.

In the first year, there was an outlay of almost £16m, dropping to just under £10m in the 10 months to September this year.

Out of 31,556 people registered to the scheme since its launch, just 6,773 have found work.

Failure to participate can result in welfare payments being cut.

Three private contractors were employed to lead the scheme across the north on a five-year contract - Ingeus UK in Belfast, EOS Works in the north-west, and Reed in Partnership in the southern area.

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