David Cameron was asked in today’s prime minister’s questions about the critical report from the government’s auditors on the government’s flagship back to work scheme.
The National Audit Office warned that providers of the £5bn Work Programme are working to overly-ambitious targets which they might not meet. They believe that out of the group of people who are easiest to get into work, only just over a quarter will be successfully placed. That compares to government estimates of 40 per cent.
The prime minister tried to brush off the problem during PMQs, sayign the risk was not to the taxpayer, but to the providers themselves:
The basic point is the Work Programme is not putting the taxpayers at risk, it is putting providers at risk. It is about payment by results, it is about getting things the previous government never did.
It was no surprise that Ed Miliband led on the economy today, on the day that GDP figures showed a drop in output in the last quarter of last year.
The Labour leader’s questioning was more effective than usual. He has a new line that looks like it could pay off:
He and his chancellor are the byword for smug, self-satisfied complacency.
It certainly gives us all some relief from the previous ubiquitous epithet Labour applied to the prime minister and his party of “out of touch”. Read more
This morning’s legal decision against Chris Huhne’s department, DECC, may serve as a welcome distraction for the energy secretary given his other thorny issue.
(He is of course awaiting a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether to prosecute him over allegations that he asked his former wife to take speeding points on his behalf.)
Then again it may just add to the pressure on the beleagured Lib Dem cabinet minister.
Solar companies are today celebrating victory over the government after the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier legal decision that recent cuts to household solar subsidies were illegal.
Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that parliament did not have the power to make such a modification “with such a retrospective effect.”
The government must now pay costs for the solar industry and has been refused permission to appeal.
It will also have to pay its original higher subsidy for customers who installed panels between early December and the start of March – a cost which could run into tens of millions of pounds in the long term.
The verdict is in some ways a Pyrrhic victory for the industry as solar subsidies will still be halved as of March 3. But companies which would have seen their subsidies Read more