Too well to sit at home, too ill to work full-time

This blog post provides an insight into the way the benefits system can fall over when the lines between job readiness and illness become blurred. Not news, so not in the newswire, but interesting nonetheless.

This news story tells a similar tale of a woman in West Fife who is too sick to work but not sick enough to claim benefits.

Watch this space

The DWP have just responded to a FoI request with some mildly interesting information, but I need some time to go through it before sending it out. It appears they were less than helpful on the time period covered, however. Anyone fancy New Deal and Programme Centre performance statistics for all providers? All well and good, but how about if we limit that to just a 3 month period?! I'll publish what I can glean from the data shortly.

Choose your own article! (still open)

The weather was far too lovely to think about the next article over the weekend, but I feel a bit guilty about not putting something together now the newsletter time's come round. More importantly, I'm not actually sure what you want to hear about anyway.

So now's your chance. What floats your boat? Gets your wick? What would you like to know more about? What dark and murky corners would you like a light to shine on? I promise to write articles about the first five responses, and any we like after that.

How can you tell if someone is job ready?

With the new NDDP contracts and flexible New Deal on the horizon, there's a lively debate going on about creaming and parking. But is it possible to predict who's ready to move into work anyway? Can a formal diagnostic ever be accurate enough to rely on, or are adviser's instincts the best guide?

DWP ESF contract awards

Update 2/6 - The DWP website has put up the official announcement of ESF winners. All of the confirmed winners are the same as were published here some weeks ago. The following preferred bidders are still in negotiation:

  • EM03 Carter & Carter (now known as In Training)
  • LO4 Tomorrow's People
  • LO5 Tomorrow's People
  • NW05 ERP Ltd
  • SW WOE 1 Tomorrow's People

Announcements tool - how to kill the subcontractor spam and keep everyone connected

Update 30th May - We've cancelled deployment of the FND Announce tool as the DWP are now setting up their own database. To go on the DWP database, you need to complete the Excel stencil attached to this post and e-mail it to sheffieldmayfieldcourt [dot] flexiblenewdeal [at] dwp [dot] gsi [dot] gov [dot] uk. The DWP's invitation letter for the database is here and some other ways to get yourself heard can be found here.

We've been working on a clever tool for both primes and subcontractors over the past two days, and could do with some feedback on whether people would find it useful.

Working Leaks

A number of contributors have been forwarding an outrageously vicious parting shot e-mail by a PCS union rep in recent weeks. It's entertaining, but also very partisan and monumentally libellous. I will not be publishing it on the site, at least not with any of the names left in. However, exposing malpractice is an important function of the press, and evidenced claims will be considered.

Notes on Panorama - 'Britain on the Sick'

The programme gave a reasonable overview of the government's new approach to dealing with IB customers, focusing on claimants in Merthyr Tydfil. However, the issues raised were not covered in depth and most of the content would come as no surprise to people in welfare-to-work.

The choice of Merthyr had some impact on the show's findings, as the area is post-industrial with high unemployment and IB rates, and a lack of jobs.

Richard review of business support

With the potential incoming Conservative government, the Richard review of business support in the UK could have a major impact on the welfare-to-work industry.

The main effects on providers would be:

  • Closing down the Business Links and many related business support services.
  • Opening a single web portal that included a single online marketplace for government procurement.

http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def...

Pause in DWP ESF awards

Further to the news on preferred bidders for the recent DWP ESF round, we've heard that the DWP sent an e-mail to prime contractors last week informing them that contract awards have been delayed as a number of providers have raised issues with the contracts the DWP was asking them to sign.

If you're a subcontractor and wondering why your primes still aren't talking with you, this is why. They're embargoed from talking with subcontractors until the official contract award has taken place.

What do you think of flexible New Deal?

I was talking to consultants this morning who are trying to decide whether to recommend investing in flexible New Deal (FND) prime contractors. I couldn't give them a straight answer. Can you? Will it give providers the freedom to truly help people, or the freedom to harm them? Are you looking forward to it? Are there any problems with the existing New Deal that it might solve? Write away!

The Policy Exchange seminar on US welfare reform

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a seminar being run by the Policy Exchange think tank, where US welfare economist Professor Doug Besharov discussed the US welfare reforms that seem to be motivating the right and scaring the left in the UK at the moment. Interestingly, the main news to emerge was that neither side's views were grounded in the reality of the US welfare system. What follows are notes taken during his presentation, and those of fellow speakers Richard Johnson and James Bartholomew.

DWP ESF Preferred Bidders

We've been keeping tabs on the preferred bidders for the DWP ESF round for a while, and have put together a complete list of preferred bidders:

Getting the most from Indus Delta

There's a lot of information on IΔ nowadays, and there's a fair chance you'll be able to find most of what you need. However, there are probably some things that aren't there. There's a solution to this. Log in, take a deep breath and create something!

Why post?

Do Jobcentre and provider staff mix?

Jobcentre Plus, welfare-to-work providers, and various support organisations all rely on advisers to help customers move towards work. But oddly, it's rare for advisers or other staff to cross the boundary between the public and private sector.

Why is this? Are JCP and providers like chalk and cheese, or is it just unjustified fear of change?