Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 28 November 2012

PMQs: Cameron denies cabinet rift over 'failing' Work Programme

Prime Minister David Cameron has dismissed Labour suggestions that cabinet ministers have been fighting "like rats in a sack" over the "failure" of the government's welfare-to-work scheme.

At his weekly Commons question session on 28 November 2012, opposition leader Ed Miliband drew attention to figures showing that the work programme had missed its main target of ensuring that 5.5% of those taking part in the scheme find a job for six months or more.

Over the 13 months from June 2011 to July 2012, 31,000, or 3.5%, of the 878,000 people who joined the programme had found a job for six months or more.

Chancellor George Osborne had given Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith a "telling off" over the effectiveness of the scheme during a recent cabinet meeting, Mr Miliband claimed.

"Isn't it a historic first to design a welfare-to-work programme where you are more likely to get a job if you are not on the programme?" he asked.

But the PM insisted that results would improve given time, arguing that the programme provided better value for money than similar schemes promoted by the previous Labour government.

"It is worth remembering that the work programme is dealing with the hardest to-work cases there are in our country," Mr Cameron said.

"These are people, adults, who have been out of work for over a year and young people who have been out of work for over nine months.

"On that basis, yes, we need to make further progress, but it is the right programme."

He also highlighted divisions within the previous administration, alleging that relations between Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown were at times so poor that they could not be in the same room together.

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