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Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today show that while the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has gone down this month, there are nearly five million people claiming one of the main out of work benefits.

Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said:

“……… we need to create real incentives for businesses to grow and create job opportunities.

“The figures also demonstrate why our planned Work Programme is so important. With nearly five million people on out of work benefits and record numbers of people who are economically inactive, we have to make sure that as the economy grows and jobs are created in the next few years that we learn from the mistakes of the past, and ensure that we provide real help and support for people on benefits so they can take advantage of employment opportunities and make the move into work.”

THE FIGURES

February 2010 to April 2010

The numbers of people in work rose slightly this quarter.

  • 28.86 million in work
  • employment rate 72.1% down 0.1% on the quarter and down 1.2% on the year
  • JSA claimants fell.
  • 5 million people claiming out of work benefits
  • The claimant unemployment rate  is 4.6% down 0.1 percentage points on the month
  • ESA: the numbers claiming ESA has remained stable since November 2009.  The figure stands at 2.62 million
  • numbers receiving Lone Parent benefit has fallen in April to 675,000

Read the figures for yourself……The Figures

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The government has been consistent!

However the termination of FND2 has sent Shock waves through the industry!!

5 year contracts are now ONLY AS  STRONG AS THE  TERMINATION PERIOD IN CONTRACTS!! this will have implications for investment in the sector.

PRIMES who have invested widely, deeply will be very annoyed!!!

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Welfare to Work announcement

Key:

  • The Work Programme will be introduced nationally by Summer 2011.
  • The vehicle for bringing the Work Programme into being and handling all work-focussed services  (and related commissioning) will be a new framework of preferred providers.
  • This framework, The Work Programme Framework, will be used for the Work Programme and for future Welfare to Work requirements and will be accessible by other public service commissioners wish to commission work-focussed services.
  • Selection on to the framework will be based on a provider’s ability and capacity to deliver job focussed services over the lifetime of the framework
  • The framework competition will commence at the end of June 2010, identifying framework providers by November and placing contracts in the first half of 2011.
  • There will be an event in July for providers interested in the framework
  • All current competitions are superseded.  There will be no fND2, Invest to Save, Personalised Employment Programme or Community Task Force.
  • fND1 providers are being given immediate twelve months notice of the end of fND1 contracts.
  • The intention is to achieve maximum continuity of service and to minimise disruption.
  • All fND1 providers are encouraged to bid in to the framework for a managed move on to the Work Programme.
  • There is no decision yet on Work Choice but there is a commitment to supporting disabled people.
  • No decision has yet been made about how Work for your Benefit will fit within the Work Programme.
  • Current New Deal, Pathways and EZ contracts will be extended in fND2 areas then will roll in to the Work Programme.

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Other news!!

FND 1 providers have been asked to meet with DWP. There are two possible reasons for this

ONE,
It could be to discuss their performance against their performance offer with a view to making decisions on FND2, PEP, CTF etc

or TWO
The word on the street is that the Work Programme will commence in June 2011. As you know, the notice period for the termination of existing contracts is 12 months……..!!!!

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DWP Commercial Director makes announcement!!!

Providers are meeting with David Smith and Alan Cave today and (I have been reliably told) a few minutes ago DWP Commercial Director David Smith announced that a letter will be sent to providers tomorrow informing them of the next steps!!!

This will be followed by a phone call!

Providers were told last week that a letter was on its way and should have arrived by yesterday: It has not arrived but this announcement is more concrete.

It’s all beginning to happen!!

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Personalisation and the Coalition

Personalisation should be central to the new coalition’s agenda; it is a civil society strategy which brings efficiencies and improved outcomes, while strengthening citizens, families and communities. But its fate is far from certain, and for good reason.

Anybody looking at the previous government’s record on personalisation would be asking themselves why:

  • Something that should save money has cost over £1 billion extra?
  • Something that should simplify things has led to more complexity?
  • Something that was meant to make things easier for the most vulnerable has often made things more difficult?

I would not be surprised if the new government scrapped the whole of the current top-down initiative. Like many good ideas before the central challenge remains: implementation, implementation and implementation.

The previous government’s implementation of personalisation was flawed from its inception in 2005. The government sought to control a policy it didn’t fully understand and which it has never fully thought through. Hence they spent money, issued targets, recruited consultants, published guidance and generally tried to ‘take charge’. None of these measures have been effective or coherent.

There is a role for central government, not as an agent of implementation, but instead focusing on:

  • Integrating the diverse personalisation initiatives across Whitehall
  • Reform of the legislation that underpins public services
  • Merging the funding streams that issue out of Whitehall
  • Agreeing a clear role for local government
  • Connecting individual budgets to the tax-benefit system
  • Defining the fundamental rights that families and citizens can expect

It will be interesting to see the new government’s reaction to personalisation. The better part of the coalition should like it – it is liberal, but it is rooted in social justice and it strengthens civil society. But, in harsh economic times anyone looking at what has been achieved so far may see something that needs ‘cutting’.

Of course this will not be the end of personalisation. Personalisation was not invented by government and it has grown and developed, in real communities, led by disabled people and those at the front-line of public services, with minimal government support. Those of us who are working to shift power and control back to citizens will still find allies and opportunities to build a better world. Hopefully this government will listen more closely, think more deeply and act more strategically. If it does, personalisation could genuinely lead to the reform of the welfare state.

Simon Duffy

Director of The Centre for Welfare Reform www.centreforwelfarereform.org

Simon created Individual Budgets and Self-Directed Support and in 2008 was given the RSA’s Prince Albert Medal for his work on personalisation.

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Richard Johnson, managing director of Serco Welfare to Work, on how the new coalition government may affect the welfare-to-work sector

“Lord Freud has now spent over three years thinking, talking and planning for the next generation of welfare-to-work services. We saw much of his work clearly set out in the Conservative Manifesto, and then transposed into the Coalition Agreement.

I think there are potentially some enormously exciting opportunities created by his proposals. There is the potential for the extension of intensive assistance to far more people currently trapped in social exclusion as a result of their unemployment.  By recognising the enormous costs of maintaining people long-term on benefits, and by creating a mechanism for using savings in those costs to fund service delivery, we are untapping considerable resources to extend the scale, the scope and the depth of our provision.

This is perhaps an opportunity to take out some of the unnecessary complexity in the ‘systems’ that surround unemployed people. Perhaps this is a chance properly to focus assistance on responding flexibly to the individual needs of people accessing welfare services. We could sidestep the agendas that so get in the way of people securing sustainable, independent futures. We could ensure that all the expertise in our frontline delivery is properly aligned, with real value derived from the money that is spent, with duplication removed and meaningful outcomes maximised. We could even start to see welfare to work finally join up, in funding and delivery, with associated services such as criminal justice, housing and health. Call me a dreamer, but we might even get some coordination between employment and skills.

There is a chance to create something here that brings public, private and third sectors into positive partnerships. Making that ‘p’ word work is, I think, dependent on how these services are contracted and subcontracted. It also requires a sea change in the transparency in this ‘industry’, with real performance data shared openly. Currently, Serco are the only prime contractor to publish weekly performance reports. How else can we drive up the quality and the performance of our services (and these two things are inextricably linked)? How else can we hold this provision accountable for the lives of the individuals we want to reach?

We are moving, I believe, towards two distinct tiers of contracting – possibly more. We may have a smaller number of prime contractors. Their contracts will be outcome-based, with payments linked to long-term sustainability. Below this first tier will be networks of subcontracted provision, which may in turn also subcontract. The challenge, of course, will be to ensure that:

  • These tiers are adding value and not simply creating additional overhead;
  • Expertise is drawn in to address the full range of complex needs falling out of social exclusion;
  • Subcontracts drive performance through partnership, with mutual benefits realised for both prime and sub;
  • Funding arrangements are ‘fit for purpose’ probably with a variety of payment models depending on who is delivering what at which tier;
  • The interface with Jobcentre Plus, and other public bodies, is facilitative and focused on jobseeker need.

It would be really nice to think that this new contracting framework could also mitigate ‘creaming’ and ‘parking’. As far as I am concerned, this is probably its most exciting implication. Under our current welfare to work contracts, providers are able – possibly are even incentivised to – focus on the people closest to work and purposefully ignore those a considerable distance away. The model we designed at Serco attempts specifically to minimise the potential for this cynical prioritisation of service delivery and to free up resources for people most in need, but it is hard to escape the necessity to manage within finite budgets. Using the savings from reduced benefits payments, the so-called AME/DEL switch, may well go a long way to completely change this perspective. Once you start to recognise that this individual spending a lifetime outside of employment is costing so very, very much in that lifetime of benefits (never mind the social and fiscal costs of them and their family to all other social/welfare services), then you can also start to demonstrate the real social return of investing in expensive, quality, outcome-focused solutions to very complex personal problems.

The devil of all this is, of course, going to be in the detail. We face a very tricky transition now between existing provision and the new Work Programme contracts. We all recognise the weaknesses in our current systems, but we must be very careful not to lose all the experience and commitment that also currently exists. Organisations have invested heavily in recent tenders. It would not be a sensible time to ignore the cost of that. A new infrastructure was put in place for the first phase of FND and is still developing. Colleagues in Jobcentre Plus have managed with exceptional professionalism the pressures of the last 18 months, and now face the challenges of significant change along with us.

It is going to be important to keep sight of the opportunities that are being offered here to shift fundamentally the impact of welfare to work. Change is rarely easy. It is eased, however, when people work together, when there is openness and honesty, and when there is such a clear and strong shared objective.”

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