Archive for February 9th, 2012

Public Accounts Committee criticises award of contract to A4e

The  Public Accounts Committee’s chair, Margaret Hodge, asked civil servants why welfare-to-work companies with poor track records of fulfilling previous contracts had been given new work.

“It seemed rather surprising to me that you did not have to regard to the past performance of contractors. Why not?” she asked. “A4e … their performance on [Pathways to Work] was abysmal … Why didn’t you look at past performance of contractors?”

Fellow committee member Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for south Norfolk, added:

“Are you seriously saying that you could not take into account that A4e had dreadful performance in one of the immediate predecessor programmes?”He said that the company got 9% of clients into work in the Pathways to Work programme – it had been expected to deliver 30%.

There was also concern raised about dividends of £11m being paid out.

Read more in the Guardian


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Unlocking Liverpool: The Deal!

On 8 December 2011 the Government launched ‘Unlocking Growth in Cities’, which set out the terms for a programme of city deals

The Government has now considered the proposals brought forward by Liverpool for a ‘City Deal’ in response to this challenge. The Government recognises it represents an ambitious economic package aimed at driving growth in Liverpool, and that it is an important part of the City’s response to Lord Heseltine and Sir Terry Leahy’s “Rebalancing Britain” report on the Liverpool economy.

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP has informed the House that the Government has approved the following proposals from Liverpool as a ‘City Deal’:

  • Subject to HM Treasury clearance of a business case and agreement with the Local Enterprise Partnership, the Government will designate a new Enterprise Zone covering the City Fringe Buffer Zone and Central Business District.
  • The creation of what Liverpool propose to term a Mayoral Investment Board that will oversee the city’s economic and housing strategy as well as oversight of the development of Home and Communities Agency’s land assets and other economic development priorities including those linked to the Enterprise and proposed Mayoral Development Zones.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions will work with Liverpool to develop welfare pilots to deliver a localised programme of support for people leaving the Work Programme and in particular include a ‘youth contract’ pathfinder.
  • A Secondary School Investment Plan funded by the Council for up to twelve new build secondary schools, including at least six new academies.
  • The Department for Communities and Local Government will contribute £75 million over the remaining years of the spending review period, subject to a strong, robust business case, to be cleared by HM Treasury, demonstrating clear value for money.
  • The Government set out in ‘Unlocking Growth in Cities’, that where cities want to take on significant new powers and funding streams, they will need to demonstrate strong, accountable leadership, an ambitious agenda for the economic future of their area, effective decision-making structures, and private sector involvement and leadership. The Government can confirm that a move towards a directly elected mayor and the creation of a Mayoral Development Corporation would satisfy its requirements as regards governance arrangements to strengthen leadership and accountability in Liverpool City Council.

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Richmond Council presents controversial report on housing

A points system for benefits claimants is being looked at by Richmond Council as part of their response to welfare reform.

Richmond Council set up a task force which produced a report addressing how  homelessness could be addressed in the context of government cuts.

The report suggests

  • The council should seek early notification of how changes to benefits will occur under the Universal benefit system so they can prepare for any impact on people living in the borough.
  • Systems should be put in place ensure councillors are aware of the national housing benefits changes and can assist constituents,
  • Frontline service staff should be able to signpost residents to appropriate advice services such as citizens advice.

Richmond Council has started to develop a homelessness strategy for 2012-16.

The council will also seek to work with other boroughs to increase the availability of bed and breakfast and temporary accommodation to deal with an expected increase in homelessness this year.

More controversially it will look at

  • Benefits points dependant on community contribution,
  • Levels of housing debt the benefit claimant has,
  • Engagement with the community about the importance of affordable housing

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Monster World Wide will help jobless into work

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has signed a deal with Monster Worldwide for a range of online job advertisement and search services.

A contract award notice has appeared in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The solution will offer an extended job search by aggregating vacancies advertised directly by Jobcentre Plus, as well as vacancies from employers’ own websites and other job boards.

Companies without an online recruitment system will be able to use a self-service facility to create a vacancy and manage responses from potential candidates, according to the DWP.

People looking for work will be able to;

  • Create their own secure online accounts,
  • Set up an online profile,
  • The sytem will suggest alternative jobs,
  • Match individual profiles and vacancies,
  • Give employers and job seekers an “automated match“,

The new system will;

  • Track the activities of job seekers and provide the DWP with business and labour market intelligence,
  • Employers and job seekers can provide real time information about their experiences,


The facility will be available to;

  • The public via Directgov,
  • To employers via Businesslink and EURES,
  • To Jobcentre Plus personnel via internal systems.

The estimated contract value is between £14.45m and £20.44m .

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Welfare reform will deepen poverty in Northern Ireland


The BBC is reproting that the SDLP have told the government that they must show “flexibility and discretion” when it comes to changing the benefits system in Northern Ireland.

The comments came after the party met with Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud and Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

The SDLP’s three MPs and Stormont Minister Alex Attwood attended the discussions in London.

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said government proposals would “simply deepen poverty ” in Northern Ireland.


The BBC...

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