Observer: Minister in welfare 'cover-up' row

Something of a follow-up to McNulty's information on contracts and performance that was mentioned in the last newsletter. I heard that people were getting in touch with the MPs who asked the question to let them know just how bad the response was. Lo and behold, an article in the Observer:

Key Points from the Select Committee report on FND and Commissioning

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The Select Committee were broadly supportive of the current contracting reforms, but had particular concerns about the future of local delivery and small organisations, and about the deliverability of FND in a recession.

DWP Bidding Opportunities - Event Report

Before each presentation at this event, the speaker often apologised to existing DWP providers that they would probably repeat a lot of information they already knew. Despite this, it was a useful day even for them. The reason? There was over an hour of Q&A with the most senior contracts people in the DWP. I've put together a rough outline of the presentations, and the Q&A. The DWP will publish the slides from the presentations on the 6th of March.

The Direction of Discussion

You might have noticed a bit of a ruckus on the Indus Delta discussions recently. There aren't any limits on posting activity on the site, and this made it easy for a single poster to monopolise the discussion section.

Advance Notice - Jobcentre Plus Support Contract

From the DWP website, so under Crown copyright

Advance Notice of forthcoming Briefing Events for the procurement of Jobcentre Plus Support Contracts.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) intends to use a two-stage tendering approach to procure support for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) customers, people who are newly unemployed or under threat of redundancy, New Deal Lone Parents, New Deal Partners and Carers. The provision will be required in all Jobcentre Plus Districts across England, Wales and Scotland, with contracts awarded likely to cover multiple districts.

London Welfare to Work 2009 - Event Report 2

There were lots of breakout sessions at last week's conference. I made it to three, which gave insights into the relationships between primes and subcontractors, the roll-out of FND, and the efficacy of employer-led delivery. As mentioned previously, the complete presentations are available on the CESI website in PowerPoint format.

Prime contracting and subcontractor relationships in New Deal (Seetec)

London Welfare to Work 2009 - Event Report 1

The London W2W convention was originally scheduled to take place on the day after London ground to a halt under a foot of snow. However, rescheduling didn't harm attendance - the event was packed out, with standing room only for some of the more popular sessions. As always, there were a range of simultaneous presentations, and the report I've put together only gives a taster of the day. CESI has its own webpage with slides and details of all sessions.

Dispatches - The Big Job Hunt

Channel 4 ran a documentary about welfare-to-work services in the recession on 16th February. They also have a small accompanying website here in case you missed it. I've put together a summary of the programme's content below which hopefully captures the major points.

Bidding opportunities – DWP Welfare to Work services

The following went up on the DWP site on the 12th of February. We'll be covering each of the upcoming rounds in detail on Indus Delta over the coming months, starting with IDEAS

Is your organisation innovative, able to deliver or oversee the delivery of quality provision to high standards and offer value for money?

Can you unlock the talents of individuals, help them enter employment and support them in the development of new skills? If so, we’d like to talk to you.

New site layout

We've changed the site design a bit, to make it easier to find the stories and information that interest you. Take a look around, why not? Feedback welcome.

FND - What's going on?

It's been an unusual week for the welfare-to-work industry, with a flurry of stories about Flexible New Deal, starting with a temporary pause in contract award and ending with rumours of the whole process being cancelled. So what was actually going on?

Having talked to a few of the people involved, it appears that what was mainly going on was the blowing up of footnotes into headline stories. Sometimes shining a light on an industry creates more shadows than it removes*.

FND procurement paused - providers have to resubmit bids

Letters were sent to providers on Friday announcing a 'pause' in the Flexible New Deal contracting round, which was due to announce its results this month. Here's the FT article that broke the story

Update - and here's the letter!

Note for Financial Times readers

Indus Delta was mentioned on the front page of the FT on Friday. Their article was a write-up of performance issues with the Pathways to Work provision. This article on the Indus Delta website provided the source material for the FT story. If you're interested in finding out more about welfare reform, welfare-to-work, and unemployment programmes generally, you can sign up here to receive free weekly updates on everything that's happening in the welfare-to-work sector.

Business Action on Homelessness Report - get homeless people into jobs

I've posted this press release directly, as there's no facility for non-providers to upload stories yet. This will change!

A report published this week by Business in the Community’s (BITC) Business Action on Homelessness (BAOH) campaign indicates that savings to Government could be in the region of £1.7bn by investing in a financial incentive for homeless people who are ‘ready to work’. The report – Making Work, Work – is the culmination of research carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) on behalf of BAOH in 2008.

Reed making mass redundancies

News has come in that Reed in Partnership laid off 5% of their workforce and put 10% under consultation on January 27th. As one of the biggest Pathways to Work deliverers, this is not a positive sign for the future of the provision. Given that nobody is achieving target on Pathways, companies or charities may start collapsing if the targets, payments and referrals aren't sorted out soon.

Update - Reed in Partnership have issued the following statement: