Is Ofsted working?

It's been a few years since I helped on an inspection visit from the then-ALI. Since then, performance statistics have become far more important, with class and one-to-one observations taking more of a back seat. Given the forthcoming introduction of star ratings and recent criticisms of Ofsted's school inspections as pointless, what's the purpose of Ofsted inspections nowadays? Does anyone find them useful?

FoI request for provider performance data - in progress

I've just submitted an FoI request for the traffic light reports that the DWP put together each month. Wish me luck!

PRaP - going pear-shaped?

Rumours abound that the Provider Referrals and Payments system to automate SL2s in Flexible New Deal delivery has, um, a few issues. I've put together some thoughts, but I've got a limited knowledge to work from. Contributions welcome!

Main points from the Social Security Advisory Committee's response to the welfare reform proposals

The SSAC have expressed major reservations about both the content and method of the government's welfare reform proposals, to a quite surprising extent. Their overall conclusion recommended a drastic slowing down in the pace of reform, the establishment of a commission to consider proposed benefit reforms, and the creation and use of a base of evidence that the proposals would work before imposing them wholesale.

Minor site changes

The forums have been simplified to a straightforward discussion area, and there's now a tag cloud of popular topics at the bottom of the front page. We've kept the old links to everything working, so you (hopefully) shouldn't hit any problems with missing pages.

Current New Deal stops referrals in April 2009?

In a meeting last week DWP stated that they will not be referring any new starts for our existing New Deal contract after April.

Has anyone else been informed of this?

Direct delivery and smaller subcontractors squeezed out

Possibly come up elsewhere - how many agencies, delivery specific, have walked away from FND when they have seen the massive, short turn around forms primes are asking them to fill in? When they want to cover all bases, they have to do this many times over?

FND Stage 3 Bidding Opportunities

Has anyone heard anything about opportunities to bid for FND Stage 3 where customers facing particular barriers or disadvantage could be fast tracked to the more intensive support available during the Gateway stage

FND furore - not enough cash?

This story in the Financial Times has publicised the recent debate over FND funding in the provider community. I've been tracking this for a couple of weeks now, and have a few thoughts on the matter.

What's happening to unemployment?

The latest unemployment figures have been released, and show around 940,000 unemployed people, up from 908,000 last month.

Most current predictions say that unemployment will hit 1 million by Christmas, and potentially reach 2 million at some point thereafter. This is substantially less than the 3 million unemployed in the 1980s recession, but is still worse than many UK workers have faced in their career to date.

Events database now live!

There's now an Events button in the menu that shows you all the upcoming events for welfare-to-work practitioners in the UK. If you log in, you can create and edit your own events. We'll also be looking to improve things and add premium features for event organisers in the coming weeks. As always, feel free to make suggestions, criticisms etc!

What the Labour and Conservative conferences promised on welfare reform

This year's conferences posed both parties with an interesting problem. Both of them are heading in essentially the same direction on welfare reform. How could they paint themselves as different to the opposition?

Higher unemployment: what does it mean for welfare-to-work?

With the economy heading downhill rapidly, and JSA claimant numbers rising at a rate of knots, what will the impact on providers be? Will there be a huge bump in the number of customers, or will the difficult job market make it tougher to get people into work? Have you delivered job programmes in a recession before?

Provider and contracts database - help needed!

We've just launched a database of providers and contracts, covering all the contract information that the DWP have published on their website. However, that still leaves a fair bit of information that's missing or outdated. Contract values, their running dates, and any information whatever about Employment Zones and PSL contracts are all missing.

Pertemps People Development Group sold to Australian group