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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 24 February 2012

Grayling defends work experience programme


Employment Minister Chris Grayling has defended the government's work experience scheme, which he says is coming under attack on the internet by an organisation that is "a front for the Socialist Workers' Party".

A number of companies involved in the scheme, Poundland the latest, have expressed concerns about the scheme.

"We've got a lot of companies who are very jumpy," he told Evan Davis.

"The High Street retail sector is going through a tough time at the moment - if you're running a company and you're getting streams of emails attacking you it's very unsettling.

"It's a false campaign. Let me give you an example: my own email address was hacked by this organisation and used to lodge a complaint with Tesco.

"So I don't accept that the scale of the campaign is very large, it's a small number of activists who are deliberately targeting these companies and trying to destabilise them."

After the interview, Mr Grayling clarified his statement, saying that his email was not hacked but that his email address was used on a complaint lodged with Tesco.

The employment minister said the work experience schemes were entirely voluntary on the part of the employers and stressed that there were very few circumstances in which people would loose benefits by dropping out.

"The data we've got so far for the work experience scheme, which is now a few months old, is that the young people who go through the scheme - 11 weeks after they've started - around 50% are off benefits," he said.

"We know that a large number of those young people are actually staying on in employment with the employers who give them the placement and that's surely a good thing."

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