"The morning after the night before"
To misquote Bill Clinton's famous quip "The British people have spoken. We just don't know what they said".
With widespread confusion and uncertainty about who will form the next Government, all predictions about the future direction of welfare-to-work policy may need to be revised. There are three (fairly obvious) likely scenarios: Tories form a minority administration; Tories do a deal with Lib Dems; Labour forms a pact with Lib Dems.
In each scenario, it is hard to see how any single political party's welfare reform proposals can be implemented entirely intact. Compromises between different policies are inevitable. We therefore need to prepare for a situation in which multiple policies and combinations are debated and bargained by an incoming Ministerial team.
The industry could react in two ways to this: wait and see what happens; or start exercising influence. We favour the latter. Obviously a few days of dust-settling is needed first. But the next Government is going to have to craft a suite of policies that reflect either the Tories' Work Programme but without necessarily tearing-up FND 2; and if the Lib Dems are exercising any leverage, DWP needs to be setting the pace on a massive new programme for young people.
We have all heard how the Cabinet Office is guiding the machinery of Government to reflect uncertain Parliamentary arithmetic. Individual Departments should also be preparing options and alternatives ... and that goes for Work and Pensions in a big way. So, step forward DWP. Set the pace. Remove uncertainty as quickly as possible. Move ahead with FND2 and remove the purdah-blight affecting commissioning that is still pending. And do it sharpish.