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:

  • They're looking at it closely, and will continue to do so
  • The obvious way to tackle it would be to offer improved incentives for harder-to-help groups, similarly to the points system that rewards JCP advisers

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

http://www.ncl-coll.ac.uk/about_us/news....

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 - http://www.lsc.gov.uk/news/latestnews/ne...

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.

Carter & Carter enter administration

Update 26/3 - Sold!

Carter & Carter, who have been in trouble for the past year or so, have gone into administration. The restructuring announced here didn't work out. Unlike Instant Muscle, they are apparently committed to meeting their financial obligations, including on staff pay.

Guardian report - http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/...

Perverse Incentive

A perverse incentive is an incentive that has an unintended and undesirable effect, that is against the interest of the incentive makers. While perverse incentives are equally possible in government-run delivery of services, this article focuses on their application to delivery by third-party providers.

Cherry picking, Creaming and Parking

Instant Muscle in administration

Instant Muscle has gone bankrupt, resulting in the closure of their delivery sites across the country. The entire workforce of over 200 was made redundant on February 28th without notice or pay, and many are interviewing for positions with competitor companies. According to rumour their Pathways to Work contract in Surrey and Sussex is being transferred, with the new deliverer being announced within the next couple of days. However, no official announcements have been made by the DWP concerning Instant Muscle or the fate of its contracts at the time of writing. 

TUPE and Welfare to Work programmes

There's been a lot of confusion in the past couple of years over what happens to people delivering welfare-to-work contracts when a new organisation wins the contract. So it seemed reasonable to put what we do know in one place as a primer for staff and organisations who haven't run into TUPE issues already.