Saturday, 3 July 2010

Is the Work Programme doomed?

There's been a "Welfare to Work UK" convention going on this week, with the various providers taking part, along with Chris Grayling and other interested parties (although not, of course, the clients). A significant contribution came from a spokesman for Serco. The whole Work Programme is predicated on the idea that providers will only be paid for sustained outcomes, and that means, as the DWP has said, that the "framework" will have to consist of the bigger companies which can stand the up-front costs of providing the service long before they get any money back. A4e has not publicly criticised this model. But Serco, the biggest and richest provider of the lot, is now signalling that they will pull out of the bidding for the contracts if they consider them not financially viable. The government is apparently negotiating, and Chris Grayling has said that the WP has to be agreeable to both the DWP and the providers if it is to succeed. Does this mean that the government will have to back down? If they have to concede that their model won't work it would be a major blow. A poster on the Indus Delta site reports that a suggestion that the government would lend the money to the providers is definitely out, and that Grayling is going to try to persuade city bankers to "invest" instead.
There's still no sign of the Channel 4 programme, "The Wager", in which A4e's Emma Harrison was to have a starring role. It was supposedly scheduled for June. Has it been shelved?


  1. Doing a rough back of a fag packet calculation based on some estimates of the local A4e operation. If each adviser has 100 clients, multiply by number of advisers (say 15), under current FND provision, that is a shade under £3,000,000 raked in for that office. (Each referral from JCP is worth a little under £2,000 a time).

    Based on the outcomes in your May 1st piece, 200 in sustained employment from 30,000 starters, the level of outcome based payments is going to have to be an obscene figure in order to match the current payments - Something in the order of £250,000 per outcome. There is going to be a huge incentive for fraudulent claims so that these private companies can maintain the cash flow. One would have hoped that the current incumbents would have learnt from the NewDeal frauds...

    How about this as an alternative: Invest in frontline JCP staff and allow them funds to provide real training, invest in local initiatives and target the resources intelligently.

  2. Even accepting your figures, remember that staff and facilities have to be paid for, so the money the providers get for on-programme and for outcomes under FND is way short of your £3m in profit. I don't see the Work Programme as easy to defraud. The providers will be claiming for outcomes in stages, and so having to keep tabs on their ex-clients, and I'm sure there will be strict monitoring of claims. The problem will be getting any outcomes at all.
    I agree entirely with your last paragraph.

    1. What if the work programme providers are companies that normal sell course?Courses which they can claim money from the LSF to delivery?Online courses etc?That is something that can be frauded.If the DWP send them an endless supply of clients and have two years to find them work thats a few courses they can sell and profit from.

  3. Serco has the right idea. Threaten to pull out and use your huge might of being a big company with many hands in many pies; and force the Government to negotiate.

    This isn't new. Happened on FND as far as I am aware - hence the top-heavy service fees. I hope the Government doesn't fool for this... and should the big providers all pull out form a company at arms reach to take over - perhaps with smaller providers having equity stake.

    Working Links apart from the bad stuff we all hear is pretty much a success in the Government eyes and that is approx 1/3 owned by Government.

    These BIG providers:

    - have huge turnover
    - far established
    - great relationships in Welfare-2-Work
    - have assets

    When they secure a contract, its not like a small start-up business wanting a bank loan with an owner with a CCJ. Any bank will give them a loan (even if we were still in middle of recession) as its a contract with a Government. An order is similar (less secure though).

    Businesses project revenue - you can do pie-in-the-sky figures... when you have a contract awarded to you will a value, thats enough for any bank to say yes.

    Working Links for example got a £13m capital injection for FND. (See ) This takes into account top heavy service fees.

    All the providers want to do is bargain a better deal with greater profit - saying jobseekers will suffer is nonsense the courses are largely (90% of people agree from feedback I received/read from many sites) useless and unhelpful anyway - but to be fair we have a lack of jobs for unemployed people.

  4. According to The Provider's Guidance published on the DWP's website, the FND Provider will ask claimants to sign a declaration allowing the Provider to carry out an Off Benefit check once the claimant finishes the course.

    The New Deal Scandal site says this request is one that claimants cannot decline, as a refusal will probably result in a benefit sanction for the claimant.

    This state of affairs is a crude way of forcing people to abandon their rights under The Data Protection Act (DPA). If policy makers, senior civil servants, lawyers acting on behalf of the DWP and their counterparts acting on behalf of FND Providers, could not implement these requirements without forcing claimants to act in a manner detrimenal to their own interests then there is clearly something wrong with this policy.

    Such contractual agreements could be challeged in the courts under the Human Rights Act and by judicial review.

    In any event, there is nothing in contolling legilation, The Jobseeker's Act & Regulations, that requires claimants to give up their rights under the DPA. What's more claimants might have a reasonable argument for "good cause" under the same legislation and thereby prevent being sanctioned for refusing to sign a DPA waiver.

  5. This is an argument, pauly, that always strikes me as slightly paranoid (when I can understand it). There is nothing "detrimental to the client's own interests" in JCP sharing information with the provider.

  6. Leaving aside the fact that I did not use the word "client", you could be correct in saying that there is no harm in JobcentrePlus employees sharing informatiom with FND Providers.

    After all that process has already happened thousands of times over recent years and it will no doubt continue over the next few years.

    Here is what gives cause for concern, though :

    Paragraph 22, Provider's Guidance (see DWP website).

    "To comply with Data Protection legislation, providers should ensure that a declaration is included in the customer's induction pack which when completed by the customer gives authority for the provider to contact third parties (including employers) and request the passage of information about the customer."

    If it is slightly or even overly paranoid to be wary of the identities of these mysterious "third parties" or the kinds of business activiies in which they operate, or to wonder why "employers" as a group have been relegated to a parenthesised afterthought in that sentence, then, yes, I'm paraniod and I have good reason to be paranoid.

    But thank Heavens there were more than 650 other people with similar paranoid tendencies who sat in Parliament from 1998 to 2001 in order to enact legislation that actively protects citizens against potential violations of privacy.

    Every UK citizen has responsibilities and rights under the law. Of course, at some time in the future Parliament might decide to enact legislation that specifically reduces a claimant's right to privacy; but unless and until that happens then the current situation stands and claimants' rights are neither subject to nor usurped by the desires of private organisations to increase revenues and profits.

  7. Provider Guidance - Update 29 March 2010

    Employment Zones

    19. Compliance with Data Protection Act and Information Disclosure
    The contractor must ensure that there are adequate arrangements in place for
    collecting, processing and sharing customer information.

    It is important to remind a customer of the DWP confidentiality statement which they
    signed when they first made a claim to benefit. However, a customer’s signature
    which only acknowledges awareness of the DWP Confidentiality Statement does not
    constitute "consent" at all and does not enable any sort of data sharing or disclosure.
    It simply provides a degree of assurance that DWP will handle personal data fairly
    and lawfully.

    There is no specific legislative "enabler" which gives a provider the ability to gather
    or share customer’s information with a third party, for example an employer or
    another training provider, for the purpose of placing the customer into training/work
    and obtaining outcome-related payments from DWP. The informed consent of the
    individual must be obtained beforehand, in line with the requirements of the Data
    Protection Act.

    The information disclosure consent form must, as a minimum, contain the following
    • What customer’s information your organisation will collect;
    • why the organisation needs the information, for example for the purpose of
    recording the numbers of customers placed into training and/or employment ,
    monitoring the effectiveness of the service and reporting outcomes to DWP
    and claiming associated payments;
    • how the information will be stored;
    • when and why the information will be shared with a third party, for example an
    employer will be contacted when the customer starts work within so many
    weeks of leaving provision for the purpose of obtaining evidence of
    employment so that a job outcome payment can be claimed from DWP.

    Your organisation needs to make it clear to customers that giving consent is
    voluntary and that refusal to give consent or withdrawal of an existing consent will
    not affect any benefit they may be entitled to.

    Authorisation to contact an employer to obtain evidence of employment must be
    expressly stated by the Provider and consented to by the customer before any
    information disclosure takes place. Renewal of consent needs to be confirmed at
    every intervention

  8. There can always be some tension between the right to privacy and the need to share information. Let me give a concrete example. A client on a New Deal type programme fails to appear and doesn't make contact. The provider tells the Jobcentre, which says he has signed off. Both parties would like to know if he has got a job. "Third parties" could be sub-contractors. Of course the former client has the right to privacy, but it's hard to know why he would want it in these circumstances.
    As I said in an earlier post, this may become an issue when contractors are allowed to deal with "whole families" and there are various agencies involved.

  9. Why are there so few people now being referred to the New deal Gateway to work programmes which have seen a drop of approximately 70%

  10. I refused to fill-in the Employment Disclosure form at both Ingeus and JHP whilst on FND in 2010. Ingeus said I could just as easily visit their office and confirm I was in employment. JHP, on the other hand, seemed stunned by my refusal, but never said anything or pressed the matter.

    Guys and Gals, please read the following, in quotes, carefully: "Your organisation needs to make it clear to customers that giving consent is voluntary and that refusal to give consent or withdrawal of an existing consent will not affect any benefit they may be entitled to"

    I've yet too see that statement (as above) on any induction paperwork that the provider gives jobseekers to fill - in. Remember, the providers don't want you to know about this!

  11. For the work programme to be sucsessfull the jobs have to be available in the first instance, and sadly from a point of view in the real world they aren't x


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