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Welfare on hold

Bidding for contracts to run the Government's welfare-to-work programme has been put on hold by James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, while officials re-evaluate the workload. The programme is intended to offer expert help and specialist training to people looking for work. Potential providers have objected that giving only 20 per cent of the funding up front, with the rest paid when people moved into work, would be unsustainable because of the scarcity of jobs.

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