Universal Benefit - replacing JSA, IB, ESA, and IS

Recognised as a major influence on the thinking of a future Conservative government, the Policy Exchange is moving beyond Freud to look at one of the enduring problems of the welfare state: the ever-increasing complexity of benefit rules, and how they might be simplified. As Theresa May acknowledged in her own appearance at the conference, research on this is in the earliest stages, and the session was mostly a debate rather than a presentation of results. Taking the idea of a single, universal benefit as a starting point, the discussion quickly revealed why so many ministers have come in intending to simplify the benefits system and left with something even more complex in its place.

Incoming: reports from welfare-to-work conference

Just for reference, there will be something of a flood of stories about various conference sessions between now and Friday, assuming I can find internet access in rural Cumbria after I leave Liverpool on Wednesday. I was hoping to put some up tonight (Tuesday), but this was somewhat scuppered by the FND release and the overwhelming volume of content to sort through.

Latest Employment Zone Star Ratings released

The DWP released new Star Ratings for the 24 Employment Zones on 15th June. There's an in-depth analysis of how they work and what issues they face in this article, and the figures themselves are available here (pdf). I'll update this story with the results table once I've got a moment.

FND phase 2 released, may be cancelled by Conservatives

The PQQ for FND phase 2 was released today, with an announcement by new Work and Pensions minister Yvette Cooper at the CESI Welfare to Work conference. Later on at the conference, however, it became rather less clear whether this FND2 round would even lead to a contract award. Theresa May and David Freud, representing the Conservative front bench, although not speaking with one voice, made it clear that the current FND model was not what the Conservatives would choose.

Self employment performance figures

The recent publication of performance figures for New Deal did not include performance for Self Employment. To rectify that, here are the figures up to the end of March 2009.

Interesting times - The year ahead for welfare to work practitioners

With the winding down of various contracts across the country, and the start of new FND prime contracts in October, many welfare to work practitioners are so worried about their own jobs that dealing with people on the dole right now is in danger of becoming secondary. To (hopefully) provide some reassurance, we've put together a guide to let industry workers know what to expect over the coming year.

FAM shutting up shop (temporarily)

The DWP have announced the shutdown of Financial Audit and Monitoring by the end of July, confirming rumours circulating in recent weeks. However, this is a brief suspension to allow set-up of a new, national level team that monitor a provider across all regions at once. Interestingly, the monitoring will be to measure 'assurance of added value for money'. Still no word on how this will work together with Ofsted or with primes' subcontractor monitoring. The full announcement follows:

And it's goodnight from them...

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell resigned after the polls closed on the European elections. Yvette Cooper has been announced as his replacement in the role. Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform Tony McNulty also resigned following his recent expenses scandals, and has been replaced by Jim Knight.

FND Phase 1 results

The results, announced on 29/5/09, are:

Preferred Providersort iconContract area
A4eBlack Country
A4eCambridgeshire and Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire & Rutland
A4eCentral London, Lambeth Southwark & Wandsworth
A4eNorth and East Yorkshire and Humber and Tees Valley
A4eSouth Yorkshire and Derbyshire
CalderCentral London, Lambeth Southwark & Wandsworth
Dudley MBCBlack Country
Max EmploymentSurrey, Sussex and Kent
MentorBirmingham and Solihull
PPDGCoventry and Warwickshire, The Marches and Staffordshire
RemploySouth Yorkshire & Derbyshire
SeetecBirmingham and Solihull
SercoCoventry and Warwickshire, The Marches and Staffordshire
SercoGreater Manchester Central and Greater Manchester East and West
SercoNorth and Mid Wales and South East Wales
Skills TrainingSurrey, Sussex and Kent
TNGCambridgeshire and Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire & Rutland
Wise GroupEdinburgh, Lothian and Borders, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire Dumfries, Galloway and Inverclyde
WorkDirectionsEdinburgh, Lothian and Borders, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire Dumfries, Galloway and Inverclyde
WorkDirectionsLeicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire
Working LinksDevon and Cornwall
Working LinksLeicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire
Working LinksNorth and East Yorkshire and Humber and Tees Valley
Working LinksSouth Wales Valleys and South West Wales

Tender Tracker

The Employment & Skills Tender Tracker is a new service through which your organisation can receive a comprehensive weekly e-mail bulletin with details of newly released employment and skills tenders across the UK. This cost effective solution brings you pre-sifted, relevant opportunities only, including subcontracting opportunities with other providers and lower value contracts outside of EU procurement rules. To find out more, including how to get your first month for free, visit www.carleyconsult.co.uk/news/?p=93

Analysis of New Deal and Programme Centre performance 2008-2009

This article builds on the analysis and explanations in Indus Delta's 2006-07 New Deal performance analysis. The figures used in this article cover every New Deal and Programme Centre contract in the country over the course of an entire year, end of March 2008 to end of March 2009. However, there are major added complexities on top of those faced in the previous analysis, that make a simple comparison table less useful.

FNDelay and a DWP Defence

The official results are now up over in this post.

Incoming - New Deal and Programme Centre performance

As covered in this previous story, I asked the DWP for contract performance statistics on current provisions back in February. They did not respond within the legally required time, so, following a reminder request, I issued a formal request for an internal review of the lack of response to the initial request.

ALP Conference - soundbites and points of interest

The ALP conference that just finished today had far too much content to even attempt full coverage. I've collated some highlights in this story, and a workshop on PRaP has its own story up.

PRaP Update

For those who haven't encountered it, Provider Referrals and Payments (PRaP) is the automated system that will replace SL2s with the introduction of FND, getting rid of the paper-based referrals, claims, and other paperwork processes that have bedevilled employment providers for so many years. We've covered its development previously in this article.