But according to Ben Brogan in the Telegraph the DWP is giving cause for concern. "Iain Duncan Smith is admired for his commitment to reform and the passion he brings to the issue. But the jury is out on whether he has the skills necessary to translate ideas into action, let alone deliver them at the helm of a complex bureaucracy. The ideas are great, but the detail is a killer. Some speculate that Chris Grayling was put in there to provide the executive oversight, after he made a success of the DWP brief in Opposition. But civil servants report that Lord Freud is roaming beyond his area and wonder whether he might turn out to be the Frank Field of the outfit if his frustrations with IDS begin to be felt. To cap it all Mr Field is being given a role to involve himself in welfare issues and the department fears that like some unmanned drone, he will keep circling above the battlefield, launching occasional deadly strikes." So nothing is certain. and it's still a case of "wait and see".
Saturday, 26 June 2010
We reported last week Freud's reassurance to the FND providers "that all providers currently performing well will take a full place in the new programme and as long as they worked hard, they had no need to worry." That came after Emma Harrison's apparent assumption that A4e would have contracts. On Wednesday a written answer in the House of Lords shed a little more light on the situation. Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope (who was, as Archie Kirkwood, a Lib Dem MP), asked "what is their [the government's] estimate of the legal costs of cancelling last year's phase 1 contracts with employment providers to deliver phase 1 of the Flexible New Deal." (See theyworkforyou.com). The answer from Lord Freud was, "We have embarked on some very productive meetings with FND1 providers on how between us we best manage the transition from Flexible New Deal to the new work programme. It is too early to provide an estimate of the likely costs of making this transition and indeed some of this will depend on whether existing FND1 providers are successful in bidding for the work programme." What that means is that the ideal scenario from the DWP's point of view is that the current providers bid for the new contracts and are acceptable, so that there is a cost-free transition. If any of them decide not to bid they will be entitled to compensation for the premature ending of the FND contracts. And that gives the "primes" like A4e a lever to extract concessions in the WP contracts, and little hope to any new providers who want to come in.