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.

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?

Creaming and Parking

At the flexible New Deal launch last week, I bumped into a rather well-known government adviser, and took the opportunity to ask him what he thought of creaming, parking and other perverse incentives. His response:

Site update!

Since the newswire was set up last autumn, it's been gradually building popularity through word of mouth. Most of the industry seems to know about it now, so it makes sense to step things up a notch. Site features now include:

  • Newswire - all editions of the welfare-to-work newswire
  • Knowledge base - a welfare-to-work wiki for industry resources

Third sector organisations and welfare to work

Third sector organisations can and already do bring a lot to welfare-to-work delivery in the UK. However, quite a few not-for-profits, charities and community organisations aren't sure what Freud, Pathways to Work, flexible New Deal and ongoing changes to DWP commissioning mean for them. So, a quick summary seems in order.

Carter & Carter sold to Newcastle College

ERSA has also been circulating an e-mail to the same effect, highlighting that the entire Employability division has been bought out and is therefore secure. It appears that Newcastle College has national ambitions. Who knew colleges could even do that?

LSC statement on the sale -

Relatedly, rumour has it that A4e has definitely secured the Surrey & Sussex Pathways contract previously held by Instant Muscle.

Cashflow and welfare-to-work provision

Cashflow is the amount of money being received and spent by a business in a period of time

Flexible New Deal - key points

Flexible New Deal will be operating across half the country from October 2009. These are the key points from the contract specifications:

NDDP Preferred bidders

So far we've heard that the preferred bidders include:

  • Shaw Trust have won 17 contracts. It's unclear whether this includes the 4 contracts they've taken over from Instant Muscle
  • A4e have won apparently 13.
  • Sencia are advertising for NDDP staff in 4 areas - Glasgow, Greater Manchester, South Tyne & Wear, and Greater Mersey & Liverpool.
  • Reed in Partnership have 3.
  • Working Links won Ayrshire but not all that much else.