FND Phase 1 results

The results, announced on 29/5/09, are:

Preferred Providersort iconContract area
A4eBlack Country
A4eCambridgeshire and Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire & Rutland
A4eCentral London, Lambeth Southwark & Wandsworth
A4eNorth and East Yorkshire and Humber and Tees Valley
A4eSouth Yorkshire and Derbyshire
CalderCentral London, Lambeth Southwark & Wandsworth
Dudley MBCBlack Country
Max EmploymentSurrey, Sussex and Kent
MentorBirmingham and Solihull
PPDGCoventry and Warwickshire, The Marches and Staffordshire
RemploySouth Yorkshire & Derbyshire
SeetecBirmingham and Solihull
SercoCoventry and Warwickshire, The Marches and Staffordshire
SercoGreater Manchester Central and Greater Manchester East and West
SercoNorth and Mid Wales and South East Wales
Skills TrainingSurrey, Sussex and Kent
TNGCambridgeshire and Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire & Rutland
Wise GroupEdinburgh, Lothian and Borders, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire Dumfries, Galloway and Inverclyde
WorkDirectionsEdinburgh, Lothian and Borders, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire Dumfries, Galloway and Inverclyde
WorkDirectionsLeicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire
Working LinksDevon and Cornwall
Working LinksLeicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire
Working LinksNorth and East Yorkshire and Humber and Tees Valley
Working LinksSouth Wales Valleys and South West Wales

This gives the shortlisted bidders the following number of contracts:

ProviderNo. of contracts
Working Links4
Dudley MBC1
Max Employment1
Skills Training1
Wise Group1

This also means that the following PQQ-shortlisted bidders did not get contracts: Reliance, CDG, DASH Training, Peabody Trust, Prospects Services, Re-gen, Silex, Connexions Staffordshire, RBLI, TWL Training, GSL UK, Reed in Partnership, Shaw Trust, Birmingham Faith in Action, ESG Group, Pinnacle PSG. A few of these (e.g. RBLI) dropped out after PQQ.

Initial thoughts

The Serco, Working Links, and A4e wins are unsurprising, although note that Coventry and Warwickshire, the Marches and Staffs appear to have been rolled into one contract if the DWP table is to be believed. Reed's failure to score a single contract carries echoes of its zero result in Pathways phase 1, but they are apparently going for subcontracting in two areas. Shaw Trust's result is somewhat lower than their usual, but the third sector is represented by Wise Group and (partly) Working Links. As people have commented, a number of these providers are likely to pop up as subcontractors.

So, was there a secret for winning bids? There are certainly patterns to the wins. Where new entrants have brought solid delivery experience and financial muscle from abroad, or where they've invested heavily in building local readiness, they've done well. Where home-grown providers have had the necessary financial backing and size, done their homework, and invested in proper business development, they've also done well.

One particularly interesting rumour concerns Customer Choice. Currently, the official plan is for both primes to deliver across the entire area when there are two in a district. This would enforce direct competition between the two primes. Apparently, the DWP are toying with splitting delivery geographically, so that each prime will get their own half of the delivery area to themselves. Nothing official yet, but it would make life easier and cheaper for the primes, albeit at the cost of damaging internal competition.


The FT published an article in today's edition with partial FND results:

Launched against the backdrop of unemployment soaring past 2m, the new contracts will be a big test of the “payment by results” welfare model and pose a massive logistical challenge for successful bidders, who will have to set up the new system by October.

An announcement was not expected until after the local elections. But officials brought forward the process to give providers sufficient time to raise start-up funds and hire staff.

Regen magazine have published an article, no new info but a bit of background:

Other successful brokers bidders include Calder, Holland’s biggest welfare provider, which won its first UK contract to become, alongside A4E, one of two providers in London.

ERSA have issued a press release:

The diverse mix of preferred bidders for the first round of Flexible New Deal contracts will bring innovation, said ERSA (the Employment Related Services Association) which represents independent providers of welfare-to-work services.

Amanda McIntyre, Director of ERSA, said:

“DWP has appointed a diverse mix of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, combining existing providers with new entrants to the UK welfare-to-work market. This should bring new approaches towards supporting people into work, so long as providers are given the freedom to innovate

“The promise of more flexible and personalised support for jobseekers must guide the preparations that can now get underway for implementing Flexible New Deal.

“The FND model is intended to free providers from the standardisation and rigid processes of past welfare-to-work programmes, so they can offer their customers what suits them best. The Government will need to resist any temptation to build in prescriptive constraints.

“Prime contractors will need to secure the innovation of smaller providers with specialist skills or local knowledge as they finalise their subcontracting arrangements.

“Flexible New Deal needs to take advantage of the full range of expertise within the provider community. This was always an ambition of FND but it takes on even greater importance in the context of current labour market conditions.

“Of course the unsuccessful bidders for round one FND will be disappointed, but their focus will now be on the many other bidding opportunities arising from the replacement of various legacy programmes with more flexible and personalised welfare-to-work support. They will value thorough feedback from DWP on their FND proposals, so they can learn the lessons for future bids.”


If DWP do decide to split delivery geographically, it would essentially render meaningless the idea that smaller organisations benefit from the Prime system, because many of the subcontractual arrangements would be redered defunct.

I can't see it happening - the volumes are there for choice.

Although A4e seem to be the big winner the fact that they are sharing all of their areas surely means that DWP don't fuly trust them and have the others in place as a contingiency, Serco have done marvelously Manchester and the whole of wales wow!!

nothing to do with trust, there was always going to be 2 providers in most areas, i think thats where the flexible bit comes from. Gives the customer more choice

aha didn't realise that he he

sorry anonomouse Serco does not have ALL of Wales, they have the current North Wales Zone. Working Links retain the South.

Whatever happened to DWP wanting a step change in the marketplace? Buying serial 'bid high / deliver low' providers such as WL and A4E in such quantity makes a mockery of DWP's rhetoric throughout the whole competition.

The list states that
Working links have south wales valleys and Serco have South East, North and Mid, Wales

I see CDG and Reed have not won anything... I wonder where that leaves them?

Seeing how partnership working is a major part of these bids, I think you'll find that the majority of existing New Deal providers have already established links with many of the primes through the bidding process, so I really wouldn't start writing off those providers who "weren't picked". There has been enough rumour and gossip in recent days that has had a profound personal effect on many people, and caused many sleepless nights. I don't think the "losers" are all going to be out of business, so let's be positive about partnerships for the future!

Having worked in the W2W sector for 20 years now, I have to say I am shocked and amazed that DWP has awarded so many Prime contracts to [removed] - again! It is such a shame because they do not have the skill or capacity to deliver what they have now, let alone add a further £150m of business, per year, for the next 7 years - this is procurement madness! Most of their senior managers have left and they are struggling to recruit given their lack of resources and negative media attention. They used to be such a high integrity company, but all that changed when they brought in the "[removed] crew" to lead at the top - what a mistake. Let's just hope customers are not let down this time under FND and that they finally realise these contracts are in place to help people, not to pocket the profit from them. Understandable now how [removed] became a multi-millionaire out of disadvantaged people!

[Moderation - oh come on, knock it off. FND is a new start for everyone, and it will be interesting to see how the organisation you name will fare against others in what should be a transparent marketplace. The organisation you name is notable for its worrying lack of profitability]

With the greatest of respect, I have more knowledge of this company and the inside workings than most - I'll say no more! Needless to say it is a mistake by DWP, and the owner of this company HAS become a multi-millionaire out of all this - fact. There are other companies out there who may not have the political clout of XXX but can deliver services to a much higher standard, you should speak to senior managers who have left the company in the last 12 months and local delivery staff and you may be surprised as to how much of the gossip and rumours is actually TRUE - anyway time will tell, as they say, with FND and XXX. We will all be watching closely...

Well done DWP! (insert slow clap.......)Now the reason for all the delays is crystal clear, you went back to the drawing board & decided to go for cheap provision as opposed to proven quality.

Pertemps & WDUK EZ staff in B'ham & Solihull should feel rightly disgusted with this decision. Everyone with a modicum of insight into the industry felt that your appointment was a sure thing and the fact that the contract has been split between a company with no uk pressence or experience & a local P2W provider with a laughable record in terms of conversion rates (>5% in the first quarter of 2009 I believe!!!!!!!)beggars belief.

Daniel, I understand the need for moderation (therefore I've not named names) but surely you're scratching your head a bit too?!

Not Anon: Having been involved in bidding on somewhere north of 50 tenders over the years, I don't scratch my head over much when it comes to contract awards. There's a huge urge to build a narrative, some kind of story or conspiracy that explains why unexpected things happen. The most accurate approach I've found is to assume that whoever gets the best marks for the bid, wins.

There's a cap on how many contracts one provider can win, and portfolio management allows the DWP to ensure an even spread of providers, but otherwise it's down to the marks for quality and cost of bid. There is no intrinsic advantage to being a good existing provider, and people doing an incredible job in an area are just as likely to lose as people on the edge of being kicked out anyway. There's an argument that a company like A4e, for example, has done well precisely because it has realised that solid, well-resourced business development is absolutely key to winning contracts, whereas Reed in Partnership has a strange habit of building and then demolishing bid teams on a regular basis.

I start with an apology as I understand that this is not a forum for negativity but I've got to say that I have to join in the above. I have worked for 'said company' and am completely taken aback by this result. In recent years it is an unfortunate truth that even though there is much talk of morality, improving peoples lives and doing what is best for the customer, the reality is that the direction set from above is without question about profitability. As for the point that we need to view FND as a fresh start, quite honestly this lepoard will not change it's spots.

Can't wait to see all these "successful organisations" coming cap in hand to good solid providers who know their own geographical areas and labour markets..... put your foot down hard subbies and make sure YOU get value for money when approached by them, for a short while only as a potential subbie, the ball will be in our court!

Mmmmmm....its so difficult to comment as my biggest concern at the moment is the welfare of my 40 staff. Now its time to focus on what we can do to ensure that those long suffering, hard working and committed individuals don't join the ranks of the unemployed and have to participate in FND themselves. TUPE will be a nightmare as we all know and the time allocated due to the normal DWP snail pace to make decisions and cover up the odd c*$k up means that planning for FND and arrangements for resourcing and delivery changes are likely to create so many problems for those of us that are likely to be working in FND that we will be fit to drop as we try to make the quality of service to clients/customers the best as possible.
With that said I am like many of you amazed at some of the successful primes. I think many of us knew who would be the biggest winners (no surprises there....now tell me running flashy events and simpering to Ministers doesn't pay)but I am also amazed at others named in the list. How can some of these companies have been able to win the bid when in one case they don't have any monies as they are Government funded (yes we the taxpayers have funded them and will continue to do so as the money they have is ours!). Another has lost contracts left right and centre within the current New Deal because of poor performance and financial management! We then move onto the broken promise by DWP & Ministers that 3rd Sector would play heavily in the FND model.....AHEM....I beg to differ!
All I can do now is go hat in hand and revisit the primes in the hope that they will take pity on poor us and profer a little of the millions of pounds of business they have won....I do hope they don't choke on their celebratory glass of bubbly.....


Given the tone of some comments above I want to praise the speed and style with which "losing" Primes (including the much-criticised XXX) have contacted their would-have-been sub-contractors. The thought was especially appreciated in the circumstances.

Yawn...Tut tut. We all knew who would win when they raised the stakes by 320% and only the large, sometimes perhaps too large to deliver quality, won through the due dilligence. Look on the failed V successful lists and compare them for financial clout then tell me it was anything to do with point scoring on a bid!

The interesting time will be at Christmas or next March, after a couple of delivery months, when it is obvious Primes will have to start flexing their muscles with all those poor subbies who are failing to deliver a "step change in delivery", whilst being paid less money, in the context of a labour market in unprecidented retraction.

All those who want to start a W2W revolution, its time to build a genuine VCS SPV for FND2. Wise Group VCS? Hmmm. Serco will buy them before the end of next year. No SPV made it through then?

Financial risk is part of financial (i.e. cost) assessment, and is touched on in bid questions asking about an organisation's ability to cope with resource requirements, fluctuations in throughflow, and more, so it's totally to do with point scoring. Also, it's fairly risky for some of the smaller organisations that did get contracts, let alone the even smaller ones that didn't. Some of these contracts could represent over 50% of their prime's turnover on their own.

FND1 had Faith in Action and Silex operating as (roughly) SPVs. Faith in Action represents a range of faith-based charities, and Silex is an SPV for Shropshire County Council, County Training and Juniper Training Limited.

True - Finance was included in the questions so it was a scorer, but the questions were about organisational cash flow and bank balance, or overdraft facility rather than concentrating on quality of delivery, innovation to support local infrastructure or 3rd sector involvement.

I wrote one of the successful bids and attended the "oh my god 320% uplift" crisis meetings.

If DWP were interested in quality, why didnt they financially underwrite their own programme or, when they bail out the banks, why dont they create a level playing field for W2W providers to compete on quality of delivery, rather than how rich they are?

It's just a shame that when scoring bids DWP doesn't take into account the vast gap between bid promises and delivery reality, and discount certain providers scores accordingly.

Agreed with the last anonymous here. DWP procurement have always been very wary of using provider performance as part of their award process, possibly in part because the performance information is fairly flaky and open to argument. That should be sorted out by PRaP, so might be worth arguing for in bid rounds in a couple of years or so. They also don't appear to be going down the Australian route of cutting the bottom fifth of contracts every year or so, which provided a convenient way of driving out poor performers. It's arguable that payment on outcomes achieves the same goal, by bankrupting under-target primes.

I work for RinP and I am gutted that we havent won anything. I am not a BD "expert" but helped out the team and I really can not understand how come we didnt win. We had some really good subcontractors, and I thought our delivery model really would make a difference. Surely that's what its about. Do we ever find out why we didn't win?

Surely the winners were where the most comprehensive, considered, researched and well thought out bids were written... and providers will live or die by their performance. I don't understand all this negativity..

This has popped up on the Wise Group website..interested in their top five performance claim!

Wise Group with its partners has won a contract worth more than 120 million pounds to deliver the government’s flexible New Deal employment programme in Scotland.

The area the Wise Group has been awarded is South Scotland which covers Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway, Inverclyde, Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, Lothians and the Borders. The Wise Group will create up to 200 new jobs to handle the estimated 90,000 unemployed people it will engage with over the five year contract, with the option to extend for a further two years. It is likely that another 150-200 jobs with Wise Group sub-contractors will also be secured.

Laurie Russell, chief executive of the Wise Group said: “We are consistently in the UK top five in delivering the government’s current New Deal programme which is being replaced by flexible New Deal.” “We believe it is our ability to deliver unrivalled quality, cost effectiveness and social return with our innovative projects that led the government to award the Wise Group the FND contract for Scotland.”

Flexible New Deal replaces the government’s various New Deal employment programmes with a single scheme. The programme aims to provide more tailored back-to-work support to jobseekers, and pays providers by results.

Phase One of flexible New Deal will be operating across half the UK from October 2009.

well done A4e!!!!!

Well done Working Links!!!

Nice to see some new blood for Birmingham and Solihull
Most people thought it was a forgone conclusion...
Let's hope the new providers remember that their clients make them money so to treat them with respect!

Does "new blood" = proven to be useless down the road in the black country mate?

Worrying time for sub contractors.

As an ex employee of xxx I can tell you that some of its sub contractors where out performing the xxx local offices, however xxx strategically placed itself with some of the larger organisations who have not won and will be dumping a number of there current subbies for these new partnerships - funny really that it was in part the current subbies performance that has been keeping xxx in the job market now they will be saying bye bye to them.

Now another fact xxx are named on other winning fnd bids as a sub contractor, thats why certain winners have won, because they are supported by xxx (serco) DWP have and always will prefer to work in partnership with xxx wherever they can, cost is partly involved in this decision, but look at the bigger picture xxx are well versed at lobbying MP's etc, no other provider spends the time or effort in this area that xxx do.

Bankruptcy is a real issue with not just the small subbies but also the large ones, there will be numerous opportunities to tender for fnd post award, the funding model for fnd has high risk written all over it, contracts will be handed back by primes as not viable, 1 or 2 will go into bankruptcy, don't be surprised if its not some of the bigger names.

Subbies looking to approach the winners now, sorry the horse has bolted, you have no chance and the comment above about local delivery so hold out for a good deal, is just wishful thinking, there is no money to splash about, get real, if your lucky you may pick up a few scraps but you will probably find its not viable.

Now the big question - YYY at xxx will realise how well she has done, will realise the overall value of her empire and will either sell (serco) or float it on the AIM market, then slowly and quitely drift off into the sunset on her yacht. She has made millions through DWP - we can all have a view on this, but I say as an ex employee if we had the opportunity who would not of done the same.

Good luck everyone, but think the real winners are the ones who did not secure an fnd prime, they will be best placed to pick up the mess that is sure to follow 6 months, maybe 12 months into fnd, they will be the ones to re tender and re negotiate a real price for the contract with DWP.

FND funding model we see the end to potential YYYs (she had the vision to get in there early)

[Moderation - made a minor change to your Ys]

Lets hear it for the small guys - Skills Training, Dudley and Calder!

Does anyone know who will be the Sub-contractors within the working link winning areas???????????

I'm from the southwest and we havent won the bid. I feel gutted and worried about my future. Working link have won the bid in Devon and cornwall. Does anyone know who they will choose to be there sub-contractors. This whole waiting game is exhausting, especially when it comes to the possibility of losing a job. If we are not chosen as a sub-contractor I may be on the receiving end of FND!!!

how does tupe work now

can Aes cope with the contracts they have? how many more staff will they need to pull it off?

Well Done Working Links. Well deserved, especially in Devon and Cornwall. I have heard they play hard and fair. Despite rumours fuelled by their competitors they remained tight lipped and professional throughout the bidding rounds. I look forward to working alongside them.

Out of interest were the bids for the 'Black Country' actually submitted as that and not the correct County names?

Here, here, say I.. would'nt it have been nice to see eggs scattered rather than all in one basket so to speak!!! But as usual the biggie wins.This company may have quantity but not quality,and time will tell!

The DWP and JCP have tended to use their own names for areas once they get below region-level. I'm not terribly sure Northumbria is that formal a name nowadays.

Ex industry: You seem a bit more philosophical about the people who did well out of the old procurement regime than some posters. The person you refer to is far from the only welfare-to-work millionaire, although the others obviously haven't done quite as well, and the money really came from the early years of New Deal.

Re: Working Links. They did indeed hide their light under a bushel. but I can't say I'm a big fan of tight-lippedness. There should have been regular open communication of what was going on - thousands of people's jobs were on the line and they were understandably keen to know what was in their future.

There's also a wider point. The big long-term risk for prime contracting actually working for unemployed people is that an 'understanding' emerges between large companies and government. Providers want government to listen to them more, and that's something I totally agree with. But behind closed doors? Is that really a good idea? Really?

Good to see another underrated company winning an FND prime well done Remploy

For those who are celabrating the fact that A4e has lost some of it current areas....Remember all the people that work for them! Not everyone will be tupeed or sub-contracted. I'm not sure this change is a good thing in the current climate. Let's just hope the winning bidders can live up to there promises!

i think people forget that A4e isnt just Emma Harrison, its made up of different provisions and staffed with some very good people who take alot of stick rom others that dont know the conditions they work under, so lets have a care.

I completely agree "Angel"!! And the stress this has caused to the employees that work very hard for the clients. People need to remember that the ethos of A4e is made up of passionate people on the ground floor. Some of the A4e employees have worked solid to improve peoples lives for 12 years! Lets hope the staff of Devon and Cornwall are not forgotten!!

And THAT is the point at which all discussion on the pros and cons of a certain provider stops. Past a certain point, it doesn't add anything to the debate. All further posts on the merits or otherwise of individual organisations will be moved to the nether hells of the discussion section.

What was the point of the Star Rating system again???

I will say that although it healthy to have an even playing field for competition I will say companies that are established within community have gained a level of trust from people that have gained their support. Since new companies have taken area's they are going to have to work hard and gained trust which will take time. People dont like and in some cases dont trust change.

I think FND and everyone working on the contract is goin to experice some very testing times.

I would also say I hope TUPE is implimented correctly becuase if people in the industry start losing jobs the media is going to take a much closer interest.

Some companies with reduced time scales are going to have to work very, very hard to get through this testing tansition period. TUPE is going to be very expenive.

Whilst all this messing about is going on and poeple jobs are up in the air who is suffering? the very people that the industry is meant to be supporting.

If any of the winners want to hire my expertise as a Property project manager then let me know - I did belong to one of the big(gest)providers who did not win anything. So I have been "released". Tons of experience in finding properties, fitting them out (I have a list of current contractors - most of them formally Pre Qualified and all of them with good track records (and all of them keen on getting some work in at competitive prioces), keeping to strict budgets and to strict timescales. Also used to disposing of old propeties in a cost effective manner and chasing all over the country sorting out maintenance issues, landlord problems, building failures and any property related issues.

Phone me on [removed]

[Moderation - Hi Big Al, you should get in touch with me before advertising on the site, and definitely definitely before sticking up your phone number!]

I would just like to congratulate ALL of those providers who have been successful and I would echo Daniel's earlier comments, insomuch as no matter what personal thoughts or feelings towards different providers may be, this is a whole new start for a set of contracts which should give focus, scope and ability for W2W provision to be the best it can be. I would urge individual passionate people (whether your employer has been sucessful or not)to accept the results and pursue new opportunities with vigour.
I can wholeheartedly say, on a personal note, I am disappointed, but this is purley because the company I work for was not successful. However, I believe in what I do and in the service I (any many others provide) that I will not be "down and out" instead, I will ensure the new providers in my area, know who I am and know what passion I can bring to their organisation.
I feel for everyone in the same boat as me, but I offer you this - don't whinge, don't cry over spilt milk, instead, grab this as an opprtunity for you to do something new and remain in an industry full of people who care. Flexible New Deal needs you (she says thinking of the old uncle sam army picture!).
Keep smiling, all.

It actually says that Working Links have won the South Wales Valleys, and South West Wales. I'm assuming that you know how big an area that is. It means any from Cardiff across to the western most point, and that also includes Ceredigion. So in actual fact, Working Links and Serco have each retained about 50% of the country. The South East section is small compared to the other areas. Sorry to be petty, but being a Welshman, working for a New Deal provider, I thought I'd comment.

I think the likes of REED will be sitting back and smoking a large cigar while watching from the sidelines for it all to go horribly wrong. Good luck to those that have won FND contracts. Some are well equipped to cope, others will need to backup all their soundbites with some convincing results,others will capitulate and either sub or hand back their contracts by next summer. I believe the new kids on the block will struggle from the outset and the more established primes will struggle due to negative economic growth. We wait with Baited breath...

In response to the comment "tightlippedness" not being something you are a fan of....that's the nature of bidding for Govt contracts certainly not the remit of the bidding providers. Well done and Good Luck to everyone. I work for one of the winning bidders and can say as a company we are looking forward to working alongside existing subcontractors and new ones too as well as sharing best practice with TUPE'd staff. Well said Blondie68....I hope ALL employees, (TUPE's and existing providers) share your attitude and enthusiam as the clients can only benefit if they do.

do you know people i LOVE your positive natures!!!

It's a difficult thing to face redundancy with a positive attitude. Anyone working in the welfare-to-work industry should be entirely aware of this given the past year. TUPE may cover delivery staff, but there could still be months of unemployment before the new provider starts and TUPE kicks in.

Having said that, there was rather a lot of dislike of one or two providers. The whole point of FND is to expose genuinely good or bad performance to some sunlight and fresh air, and provide appropriate reward for either. I'll stop there as I'm in danger of breaking my own stricture on further discussion on the topic. No talking-about-the-talking-about-the-not-liking-company-X either!

Sick as a dog. Thinking of applying to General Motors.....

I know this will be small comfort if you have been given notice of redundancy but... there are more jobs involed in FND than there are in the current New Deal.

I'd also recommend patience if you are working for a New Deal provider who hasn't been successful. We won't begin recruiting for FND until mid July and i'll be more impressed with candidates who have shown loyalty to their provider and their customers by hanging in their to the very end, rather than those candidates who jumped ship (or were forced) at the first opportunity.

Hopefully all existing New Deal providers will see the remainder of the contract out in a professional manner. The consequences of a current Prime throwing in the towel the moment the programme becomes unprofitable would be absolutely dire for staff, customers and subcontractors. Wouldn't be the first time tho...

What is ERSA's press release all about? Just [removed] waving the flag for the system because their people won lots. I don't know who they think they are thinking they represent the sector, they certainly don't represent me and my company.

[Moderation - minor edit]

Who is ERSA

ERSA are the Employment Related Services Association, a low-key industry body for welfare-to-work providers. Their membership skews somewhat towards larger organisations, and the Oxford Economic Forecasting report they released when they first set up bears many similarities to the Freud recommendations. There's an interesting issue around representing the interests of both subcontractors and primes at the same time; having said that, many of the primes are also subcontractors.

Having worked for some 20 years under various contracts including DWP,LSC and JC+ I still get surprised/shocked at the outcome of each decision they make.
Poor old Devon & Cornwall now under a Provider that when asked what role local expert /small providers could expect to play should said Provider be preferred bidder the answer was 'WE'LL RENT ROOMS FROM YOU'!!!!.

Hardly surprising then, that so far I've found no local small providers who carry much hope for their futures, regardless of successes to date with their work so far.

Response to "Bungle":

What are you talking about? Loyalty doesn't count for anything nowadays.

Most providers wouldn't think twice to make staff redundant and have done just that many times. I've seen organisations downsize or fold suddenly, throw in the towel and staff were left without jobs and salaries. To add insult to injury, many providers don't even recognise trade unions! I would encourage everyone to look after their own selves and develop their own careers. If another opportunity bacons, take it! If any provider would count 'loyalty' over experience, results, personality, and/or training, then I would think twice about working for that employer.

Good luck to all!

no one likes staff that bad mouth there employers especially annon! so here you lose credibility. you should support youre company while youre with them and bide your time till you leave.

I would argue that there are good and bad people in every organisation, both managers and delivery staff. Loyalty is sometimes good but not always. Is it sensible to show loyalty to a staff member who is ineffective at helping unemployed people no matter what support is offered to them? Is it sensible to show loyalty to an employer who treats staff and customers badly? Is it sensible to show loyalty to a system in the times when it doesn't help the people who form its sole purpose?

I would just like to say that I work in Doncaster for Reed in Partnership. Reed in Partnership are a fantastic company to work for, the people are what makes the place have a buzz and a fab atmosphere. Although Reed have lost the contact the commitment and dedication from staff there is fantastic, as usual we will end on a high, hold our chins up and deliver job outcomes to the very very end. I would like to again inform everbody about the good work done at Reed in Partnership in Doncaster, we have delivered excellent results over the years and personally not getting the FND contract has been a huge blow to us all, we thoroughly deserved it, we gave it our all but its not enough obviosuly. Having worked for Reed for 2 years it has probably been the best job satisfaction anybody could ask for, what a bunch. Thats not it for Reed in Partnership, watch this space, we are the champions, but most of all we stick together!!!! Now lets get to work lol!

Please re-read my comments. How on earth did you interpret that I bad mouthed any provider? I stated facts that are well known. You are way off track.

One of the issues with a war of the anonymous is that nobody can track who writes which comments. Please replace the name 'Anonymous' in the comment box with something a bit more helpful. It doesn't have to be your real name. Fred would be fine.

But don't all of you call yourself Fred. That wouldn't help at all.

@ Fishlake!! (not verified) on Tue, 02/06/2009 - 3:55pm.


[Moderation - removed repeat comment from above]

You could try looking at the Jobcentre Plus introductions to Employment Zones and New Deal. Also, you should give yourself a name so we can identify you as something other than Anonymous.

i agree work with a nick name, unless your aim is to stir up emotions for fun and not help or contribute?

I am getting a little confused on here, im not sure whos replying to who any more!!
I just made a comment of truth I didnt write on here to insult anybody, far from it. I just wanted people to be aware of some of the excellent providers who have been affected, people seem to be getting a little irrate, were all going through the same thing, were all working to help unemployed people get back into work. I hope people who have been affected manage to get some good luck as I hope the staff at Reed in Doncaster do. Ill be keeping my fingers crossed and hoping the new providers want us!

not you fish lake its aim at the anon posts, what you said was what you felt nothing wrong with you

Well I for one will be giving my employer 100% loyalty right up till the bitter end Im focusing on the here and now - still got a contract to deliver Im not blowing my own trumpet but I am quietly confident that I will still have a job I am all old new dealed out so ringing in the changes is a positive step for all of us who are well experienced in this industry ! I am consciously competent right now and shall be taking my own advice on selling my self effectively to someone new - anyone thats been around for donkeys years knows how it works and you always bump in to someone you have worked with on previous conracts or working for different providers its contract work but if you are good you will be ok so heres to the next 5 years of targets and league tables

fishlake - sorry mate but your loyalty is misguided. Work for RinP and helped out on the bids. I know for a fact that there was uproar, and even tears, in the BD team because the directors changed the S Yorks offer to really really low at the last minute. There was never a chance that RinP was going to keep Donny. from the moment that bid was submitted they had basically written off all us Donny Crew. [deleted]

Moderation - edited following this comment being drawn to my attention by a Reed staffer. Somewhat libellicious, and ascribes a motive to people's actions without evidence, when another explanation (signalling) is more plausible

I can't comment, I never saw the bid - all I know is that there are fab members of staff here left wondering whats going to happen to them, are we the people who have changed many lives now going to be unemployed ourselves now?
I wonder if the new providers will want us, is there hope for us?
All we can do is be positive, sit it out or get up and go.....thats a personal choice for all.
Your anon so I dont really no how much truth there is from what your saying...unless you reveal your self!!

AS IF reed would ask A4E, what are you on about!!!!!!?????????

A4e are always on the look out for good employees. wait and see what oppertunities if any come up,

Quite interesting to see A4E are a preferred bidder in LSW, particularly following their prior experience in the district.


??Lambeth Southwark & Wandsworth?? anyone?

HAHAAHA ok im having a blondie moment

Yes, LSW = Lambeth Southwark & Wandsworth

john smith - all i can say to you is wait and see where Reed is a sib contractor and to who and then see if you want to come back with As if...
why would I write it if it wasnt true
fishlake- the point i was making is that the directors have no loyalty to us, they made a deliberate decision to put in an offer so low it was laughable at the same time as agreeing to go in as a subcontractor to A4E in at least two of the districts A4E have won.


I work for a provider that didn't win in my area & we are all concerned here about TUPE. Firstly that TUPE applies to us & secondly that if it does & the winning company take us on that they will try to performance mange us out at the first moment due to differences in salaries etc. It's difficult to know what to do for the best

The provider that I work for also did not win anything specific in the area that I'm based in and forms my remit for part of the role I provide (although I also perform tasks on a national basis so to speak). I'm in a quandary as to what to do as with little work in my own remit area and reduced work throughout the rest of the country I may be a 'casualty' as initially there is a reduced workload but also as the successful bidder may not be able to offer a similar role under TUPE.

TUPE applies to allof us doesnt it???

wish I knoew I am in the same boat Tees Valley area

TUPE will be problematical, at all the provider meetings JCP offered no support or advice to the people who may have to take these staff on.

In Pathways courts of law were involved to ensure some providers took on staff that they felt "were not eligable for TUPE" and that they had not reflected that in their bids. Until JCP actually declare that it applies when issuing PQQ and ITT rather than skirting round the issue, it will always be a bone of contention between providers. This is even more so in economic times like we have at the moment!

I've been TUPEd before (not as painful as it sounds!) and apart from the uncertainty that the situation brings from the point of view of the external factors involved there are the added issues/concerns that are unique to the two organisations involved coupled with the unique situations/conditions assosciated with the individual person. It is a classic case of feeling a little unnerved by the lack of control that the individual has in the process - I'm not a control freak but when I went through it before I felt detached from it and resigned to the fact that it was going to happen regardless of how I felt etc. no point worrying or objecting as the outcome was inevitable.

RinP have had their day, EZ hasn't performed to its potential for a long time and this is not a dig at anyone who works there its fact.!!! There are SOME good advisors there but also some poor ones that should have gone a long time ago this includes management

Daniel - the site seems to becoming more of a slagging ground for providers whether that be A4E, Reed or otherwise. Is this helpful?
An observation for all, having worked in this industry for what seems like an age Anonymous' comments regarding advisers / managers above actually apply to to a lot of providers (and a lot of other industries)- we can't all be as perfect as you anonymous!
I am sure people employed by Reed are gutted, but I certainly wouldn't "write them off" just yet!! If you know your industry then you would know this happened in Pathways and in phase 2 Reed won loads.
In the same vain, I am sure staff A4E are delighted, but they seem to have got a bit of a drubbing too! What do you people want?
If your organisation has won, great, but show a little compassion to those who's organisations haven't, these people don't deserve such negativity (whether you deem them to be good or bad at what they do).

I totally agree blondie68. it isnt constructive at all. ok if you have a gripe open up a blog dont dump here, i think anon users shouldnt be allowed to post, it confuses the post and no one knows who they are replying to. yes a4e staff are happy they won some contracts they would be stupid not to. i work for a4e and i can say we do an excellent job and ALL our clients love coming to us!!! so lets not keep company bashing lets be positive. why not post about the logistics of the contract, how could you do it and be successful, its a complicated contracted, so how will it work....how are other providers running there contracts, im bored of company bashing now.

I also agree with Blondie68 as it happens. I've not been on top of comments the past couple of days, but there is a preponderance of, um, healthy debate about which providers are good or bad in the comments sections. I don't think it's intrinsically a bad thing, but it's not particularly enlightening or useful for most readers, and can make the discussions a bit dull. More interesting comments would be about TUPE, how the transition will be managed, how JCP advisers are finding the new regime of FND, what's happening with customers right now, or any one of so many other things. I'm still trying to decide whether to push all the 'provider X is good/bad' posts to another topic, as I've done previously. For now, if anyone has any suggestions for stuff they'd like to see me writing about then feel free.

In the longer term I'm looking at setting up a Community of Practice for employment advisers. This would rely on real names, a proper registration process, constructive discussion and some really very nifty information and tools. I'm working on a formal proposal right now, to try and put together seed funding to go forward with.

Hmmm, my only thought about that last paragraph, Daniel, is whether any JCP advisers will take part using their real names, knowing that senior management observe the site and what's written on it. I don't know whether management in the private provider industry have such restrictive rules.

I want to see more TUPE discussion as the summer progresses - things are too quiet at the moment . No point provider bashing its boring. I dont think we will see JCP advisers on here in all their unanonymous glory do you?? I would love to see a fly on the wall documentary filmed in that place it is such a demanding job

The Community of Practice idea has some fundamental differences from the types of conversation taking place here. Talking about the best way to help someone or other aspects of daily work are not politically sensitive. A good example of a similar idea in a related field is Rightsnet, who provide a similar service for benefits advisers. Like Rightsnet, this online community would need to be subscription-funded with partial closing-off of access to information.

Questions such as 'who can I go to for help with a customer who's got health issue X', or 'I'm getting objection Y to taking a job, has anyone else dealt with this', or 'who delivers stuff like Z locally, and does anyone have experience of them' are more the sort of things it would be looking at.

A subsrciption-based, closed-off area of the site may be a runner, Daniel, provided the questions/replies are procedural/technical, not stuff like stereo-types of clients, etc. I don't understand the 'partial' bit, though.

Never having looked at Rightsnet, I wouldn't know, but would a JCP adviser have to get official clearance from management before taking part in a similar section on your site?

I would imagine the main area for discussion would be the interface between JCP/Providers at the end of Stage 3 of FND?

Just looked at Rightsnet, and although I could see it being cost-effective for a provider to pay for a group subscription to such an area, I think that unless DWP are going to fund a similar thing, you would have to have a lower rate for individual JCP advisers if you want them to join in discussions. £132 seems a lot!

Agreed, ahomage. There are some questions about funding that need careful thinking. There are at least three types of staff that would need to be involved - JCP advisers, generalist employment advisers, and specialist support advisers. Individuals paying for access isn't the solution, and there are obvious issues in getting JCP and specialist support agencies to pay for subscriptions.

Still waiting for info as to staff required by the new contracts. Has anyone heard anything yet? Heard a rumour that the contract may be late starting. If this is the case, would we all be made redundant and then re-employed (or have to apply for jobs with the provider)? Does anyone know?

I hear a rumour that Serco have won Swansea in Working Links zone of South Wales Valleys and South West Wales, anybody got any ideas if this is in any way true.

Not as far as I am aware, unless I've missed something along the way.

To message at 10:43. This certainly isn't the case. Working Links have South Wales Valleys and SW Wales and Serco N Wales, Cardiff and Newport.
There was a meeting of preferred bidders and DWP last week. With regard to the contract starting late: the preferred bidders have been announced but it could be a couple of weeks before contracts are signed and successful providers are ready to start implementation and TUPE'ing staff. Its going to be a long bumpy ride!

Blondie68 - if you knew your stuff then yu'd know that this is nothing like RinP in round one of Pathways. Pathways represented a new area of buisness for them. There they didnt get past the PQQ stage - with FND it was meant to be their bread and butter stuff and in areas where there was existing ops. They made a concerted effort to win bids but read the market wrong and outpriced themselves from the market. Much bigger mistake and far more devastating than pathways.

anyone heard anymore on TUPE yet?? I'm getting worried... What do the winning provider need to consider - have not worked out the logistics of it all yet?

I'm writing an article which covers TUPE and some other issues. Short answer - your job may well be protected, but it'll take some time to sort out. The contracts haven't been signed yet, and nobody can even begin to talk about TUPE until that's done.

DWP are making a big announcement about Phase 2 on Tuesday. My guess is the PQQ is finally announced.

DWP website link:


So who thinks will do well in phase two?

I think Serco will get a couple more and it will be interesting to see what other international companies win who were not involved in phase 1 such as JobFind/Angus Knight and Sarina Russo.

It will also be interesting to see how the districts split because DWP did not include City & East with Central London in phase one which they did with Pathways.

The Social Security 2009 act tells you the package areas..

Annexe 4 Jobcentre Plus Districts in each Phase
Phase 1 by contract package
1 Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway & Inverclyde Lanarkshire & East Dunbartonshire
Edinburgh, Lothian & Borders (2)
2 Birmingham & Solihull (2)
3 Black Country (2)
4 Cambridgeshire & Suffolk
Lincolnshire & Rutland (2)
5 Central London
Lambeth, Southwark &
Wandsworth (2)
6 Coventry & Warwickshire,
The Marches
Staffordshire (2)
7 Derbyshire
South Yorkshire (2)
8 Devon & Cornwall (1)
9 Greater Manchester Central
Greater Manchester East & West
10 Kent
Surrey & Sussex (2)
11 Leicestershire &
Nottinghamshire (2)
12 North & Mid Wales
South East Wales (1)
13 North East Yorkshire & the
Tees Valley (2)
14 South Wales Valleys
South West Wales (1)
(number of prime contractors in brackets)
Phase 2
Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire &
Cheshire, Halton & Warrington
City & East London
Cumbria & Lancashire
Dorset & Somerset
Forth Valley Fife & Tayside
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire & Swindon
Hampshire & Isle of Wight
Highland and Islands
North & NE London
South London
South Tyne and Wear valley
West London
West of England
West Yorkshire

The whole document is here...

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm75/7566/7566.pdf (page 66)