New look DWP website

Those of you who haven't taken a look at the DWP website recently might want to have a quick browse. They've just relaunched it with a snazzy new interface.

More (and more) rumblings of fraud

Edit 29/6 - Updated with details of the Channel 4 News story

An article in last Sunday's Observer picked up on a previously unknown fraud probe at A4e in Hull, and drew comparisons with the Individual Learning Accounts fiasco to make the whole thing sound rather bigger than it was. Here's the article content, boiled down for easy digestion:

ippr publish research showing strain on personal advisers

  • ippr research shows advisers overrun by demands on the system
  • Advisers doing almost twice as many interviews compared with pre-recession
  • Report shows a need for more training for advisers
  • Government needs to fulfil promise to recruit more advisers

Cuts in Workstep - 5% nationwide

For those who haven't heard of it, Workstep is the nearest thing the DWP's contracted employment division has to a supported employment programme, placing people with disabilities into work with intensive, long-term in-work support.

Stepping into the light - DWP contracts set to publish open performance information

Ever since Indus Delta started up, a major theme and recurring bugbear of the site has been the publication and analysis of welfare to work performance figures. After two years and a constant stream of Freedom of Information requests and leaked data, it appears the quest may be nearing its end.

Traffic light reports to Feb 09 published

Anyone who remembers the traffic light analysis from earlier this year might be interested in the latest release, placed in the House of Commons library a couple of weeks back.

Jim Knight has the answers...

Since Jim Knight replaced Tony McNulty, there's been a veritable flood of written answers to Parliamentary questions. Here's a selection of some of the more interesting ones:

Contracts

Spending on Programme Centres over the last ten years - not what it used to be

And this year's Programme Centre budget - back up again

Jobcentre Plus Support Contract PQQ results released

[Updated 30/6 - Contract specification now attached]
[Updated 31/7 - Angus Knight and i2i have withdrawn from this round]

The PQQ results of Jobcentre Plus Support Contracts have been released. I've put them in a handy sortable table to make it easier to figure out who won what where. Supposedly, these will be running from December 2009, and are due to replace Programme Centres and various other bits of support, and provide a way for JCP advisers to call on provider services before the 12 month FND entry kicks in.

ESF PQQ results released

For those who haven't checked in the last day or so, the ESF round results have finally been released. The table of shortlisted bidders is in pdf form, and I'll translate it and put it on the site as soon as I get chance. In the meantime, here's the official announcement, lifted from the DWP site under that handy Crown copyright:

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.