JUST one in every 32 jobless people in the region have found work through a flagship government scheme - triggering criticism it is "comprehensively failing".

The proportion of long-term unemployed helped by the £435m Work Programme - at only 3.11 per cent - is even worse than the dismal national picture of 3.53 per cent.

And, incredibly, it means that more people would have found sustainable work if the programme had never been set up, on the government's own analysis.

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In total, 52,380 were put in the scheme in its first 13 months across the North-East and North Yorkshire, but only 1,630 (3.11 per cent) found work for "several months".

In some areas - including Middlesbrough (2.22 per cent), Stockton-on-Tees (2.32 per cent), Harrogate (2.5 per cent) and Sunderland (2.64 per cent) - even fewer benefited.

Two years ago, the department for work and pensions (DWP) estimated that five per cent of the long-term jobless find work whether they are given help or not.

Even in the "best-performing" part of the region - Redcar and Cleveland (4.55 per cent) - the Work Programme fell short of that "deadweight"

figure, in the period between June 2011 and July 2012.

Labour leapt on the analysis as proof that the government's welfare revolution - offering payment-by-results to giant private firms - was "comprehensively failing".

Liam Byrne, the party's work spokesman, said: "We were promised a welfare revolution and what we've got has been exposed as worse than doing nothing.

"Welfare bills are over £20bn higher than expected because this government has failed to get Britain back to work. Now we know why."

But Mark Hoban, the work minister, said one quarter of 800,000 jobless people had found some work, adding: "It's clearly ridiculous to suggest the Work Programme isn't helping people into work.

"This is the first year of a scheme that's tackling the hardest to help people in society, people unemployed for over a year and on incapacity benefit or employment support allowance. It takes time to build up performance."

Nevertheless, the figures are a deep embarrassment to ministers, who have repeatedly boasted the Work Programme - by using the expertise of private firms - was the answer to long-term unemployment.

Mr Hoban said 'improvement notices' had been sent to a number of companies involved, who had been given until next April to up their game - although he refused to name them.

In the North-East and Yorkshire, the 'prime contractors' include Ingeus Deloitte, Avanta, Serco, A4E, Intraining and G4S, the firm much-criticised for blunders over the Olympics.

Under the scheme, firms earn between £3,700 and £13,700 for each jobseeker helped into work - depending how hard that person was to help - plus a £400-600 upfront payment .

The DWP did not dispute that £435m had been spent on the programme so far - which put the cost at £14,000 for each person in work for "several months".

Anyone is put in the scheme if they have been jobless for one year, or after nine months for under-25s.