The number of voluntary organisations delivering the Work Programme as subcontractors has fallen slightly in the past six months, and the number of private and public sector groups has risen slightly, according to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.
The DWP’s latest "stock-take" of the organisations delivering the scheme, set up to get unemployed people back into work, shows that 412 voluntary and community sector organisations were involved as of 30 January 2012, a fall from 420 in August 2011.
The number of private sector firms rose from 295 to 306 in the same period, and the number of public sector organisations rose from 133 to 137.
The data includes organisations running the programme as "tier one and tier two subcontractors", meaning it does not include organisations that carry out one-off or ad hoc work on the programme.
The Work Programme operates a payment-by-results model, under which providers are paid once an unemployed person has stayed in work for six months.
A spokesman for the Employment Related Services Association, which represents welfare-to-work providers, said it would be unwise to assume the figures represented a trend. "The changes are very small and many of the changes represent corrections to the original figures rather than changes in the make-up of supply chains," he said.
"The original figures were collected in July, when there was a lot of fluctuation in the supply chains, and we should see the new figures as providing a more accurate picture. We may be more able to discern trends when the next set of figures is published in six months’ time."
The DWP issued a statement that said: "Voluntary and community sector organisations have maintained a strong presence and still show the largest overall number of organisations in the January 2012 stock take.
"These figures do not reflect the large number of voluntary sector and other organisations who work with our providers on an ad hoc basis."