FAREHAM MP Mark Hoban is in the firing line over the poor performance of the government's back-to-work programme.

Figures released today show that of the 800,000 people to have entered the flagship Work Programme, just 31,000 have stayed in a job for over six months.

Under the scheme, private providers are paid for the number of job seekers they manage to get back into work.

The success rate of 3.5 per cent was below the 5.5 per cent target.

Mr Hoban, the Employment Minister, said improvement notices had been sent to a number of organisations involved in the programme, asking them to come up with plans to improve their performance.

He said that 56% of people who joined the scheme have come off benefits, with one in five of the earliest participants spending at least six months off benefits.

He added: "Some are hitting the standards we expected, others have some way to go. The challenge for providers is to turn more job-starts into sustainable work.

"No one should under-estimate the challenges some of the providers face in getting some of the hardest-to-reach back into work."