Sunday, 23 May 2010

An Open Letter to Iain Duncan Smith

Dear Secretary of State,
You have set out your intentions on poverty, jobs and welfare reform, and few would disagree with your diagnosis of the problems in this area. However, as someone with personal experience of, and concerns about, the ways in which such problems have been tackled in the past, I want to ask you to avoid the mistakes which have brought this situation about .
Please resist the advice to roll up all the necessary actions into one large contract to be sold to the highest bidder. I know you will use private companies. But you know that private companies exist to make money; that is not a criticism but a statement of the obvious. And the record of private companies since New Deal was outsourced in 2006 has been of failure to meet targets while still making healthy profits. If you intend to pay providers only on "sustainable" outcomes, you will ensure that only large companies can afford to tender; and you will ensure that "creaming and parking" becomes the norm. What will happen to the "hardest to help"?
The first necessity, as I'm sure you realise, is for genuine skills training, and not just for the under-25s. The JCP regions should be able to contract directly with training organisations such as FE colleges to provide this. Local councils have already demonstrated their ability to work with employers and communities to create jobs. Don't cut them out of the loop. If the large private contractors have control of this, it will be to the detriment of communities and of the unemployed.
You have shown your ability to listen to, and understand, the people who are on the receiving end of these programmes. Please continue to listen to them, rather than solely to the providers.

And a final point. Among all the reforms which this government wants to make, can you please ban all MPs from receiving money from companies which have government contracts.


  1. The Teflon Don23 May 2010 at 10:24

    Has this letter actually been sent to IDS?

  2. Teflon Don, no, it hasn't been sent. He wouldn't get to read it. This way - you never know!


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