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 However, that still leaves a fair bit of information that's missing or outdated.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

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.

Flexible New Deal PQQ results

The official results are now on the DWP website here in pdf format. Some more discussion coming up shortly

What do you make of the Green Paper?

Now it's out, does it match the hype? Will it be enough to stop the Conservatives from time-limiting benefits Wisconsin-style? Is it what you wanted it to be? Don't hold back now...

Welfare reform green paper

The proposals laid out in the Green Paper have been communicated piecemeal over the past few months, and represent no great surprise.

Main proposals

Benefits-related proposals include:

  • Simplifying the current out-of-work benefits to just JSA and ESA. All under-50 IB claimants will be transferred and reassessed under the new regime between 2010 and 2013
  • Drug treatment or cutting of benefits for addicts
  • More Access to Work funding to help people with disabilities

NDDP Results - official

After some prompting, the DWP have finally published the NDDP results from earlier this year here (rtf format).

Welfare Reform Green Paper contents leaked

Not by me, I hasten to add! BBC News is carrying the story here, and is highlighting the supposed wholesale lifting of Conservative policies. Proposals include:

  • Paying welfare to work providers using the savings made in benefit payments (i.e. relaxing the DEL / AME rules that have prevented this, as predicted by Freud and virtually everyone else at the recent W2W conference)

Key points from Mental health and employment (DWP report 513)

As the summary on the DWP site isn't terribly helpful, we've extracted the key points for moving people into work from this report. The report itself covers the entire employment process, but did not cover Pathways to Work areas and thus has a limited amount to say about it.

The following points seemed the most interesting for welfare to work providers:

  • Mental health-related IB claimants typically wanted to be in employment and understood the benefits that could derive from work

Should we publish bid results? (QotW)

We've published the Pathways to Work, NDDP, ESF and fND PQQ results prior to their official announcement on the DWP website. However, the DWP are apparently a bit grumpy about this - their view is that it jumps the gun and that subcontractors and staff in companies will assume results that may still change. Conversely, most providers and subcontractors I speak to say they prefer to find out what's going on as soon as possible.

What do you think? Should we publish future results or not?

A4e rumours quashed

Around the time of the flexible New Deal launch, rumours circulated throughout the industry of financial problems at A4e. Hot on the heels of the collapse of Instant Muscle and Carter & Carter, this didn't seem entirely implausible.

Although A4e is still very much there, the rumours weren't openly discussed or denied. After talking with a few people at the welfare-to-work conference, I spoke with a director at A4e this week to confirm some details. He gave a convincing explanation which included: