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

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!

Pertemps People Development Group sold to Australian group

Key points from the Social Market Foundation report on flexible New Deal

The SMF report builds on their presentation at the Inclusion Welfare-to-work conference in June. The report identifies various flaws with FND, and suggests solutions to each of them:

Fraud and welfare-to-work delivery

One of the more interesting ways in which different stakeholders view welfare-to-work delivery is the assumption made by the most disenchanted customers that the industry is a gravy train, and that the whole thing is some kind of fraud being perpetrated on the taxpayer with them as the victims. While at one time there was room in the industry for sharp practice, procurement and contract management both now take account of performance in securing job outcomes, eliminating the persistent underperformers.

Shaw Trust Director leaves rather suddenly

Ian Charlesworth of the Shaw Trust was put on immediate garden leave last week. No news as to why, but the obvious reasons would be either gross unfortunateness or poaching by a competitor. The use of garden leave might suggest the latter.