Monday, 13 June 2011


In all the publicity about the Work Programme it's been assumed that the inclusion of lots of voluntary sector organisations as sub-contractors is a good thing. Indeed, the government was adamant that they had to be part of it, and the people who've made a living out of running the sector have been desparate to be involved. But looking at the list of these organisations, I'm not so sure. Many of them are not the usual "third sector" big players which depend entirely on contracts from local or national government for their income. Some are small community projects. Others are respected organisations which people turn to for independent help and advice. The involvement of these organisations with the WP carries dangers for them. For one thing, they could find themselves under immense pressure. The primes are focussed squarely on the money, and if these groups do not contribute as much to the bottom line as expected they could be ditched. And they also run the risk of being seen as agents of private companies like Ingeus and A4e, and this could affect their image. I think we'll see more than a few of these organisations falling out of the WP in the next couple of years.
There are other concerns. The plan is that primes will genuinely compete with each other; if they fall below target they will lose share of the clientele to their rivals. But no one has said what will happen if they are all falling below target to the same degree, which is very likely. Remember also that these are 7-year contracts. If the government which succeeds this one wants to change them or abandon them they won't be able to without paying out a great deal of money.
We're used to A4e finding new and dafter ways of describing itself; but one which popped up this week is the most absurd yet. "A4e is a social purpose company with the sole aim to improve people's lives around the world. We do this by helping them to find work, skills, direction – or whatever it is they need." Roy Newey, having moved on from Saudi Arabia, is currently looking for business in Latvia.
All the coverage in the last few days has shown how little the media understand, or care, about the history of welfare-to-work. And that's also evident in a review of next week's Fairy Jobmother programme in the Hartlepool Mail. After calling the show "popular" and "innovative", the piece tells us that, "Hayley worked with the candidates featured in the show for two weeks and tried to instill the skills and motivation required to get back into work. As part of the show, she helps them with basic CV writing and job hunting skills before lining them up with interviews." So none of them, we must assume, had been on a New Deal or FND course, where private companies were paid to do this, and apparently failed. I bet we won't be told. And how does "lining them up with interviews", which they almost certainly wouldn't have got without the cameras, affect people's perceptions of the world of the unemployed?


  1. Many of these voluntary sector organisations around long before ND/FnD and it's most recent incarnation, Work Program - The likes of A4e didn't use them during the previous programmes, so it makes me wonder if these charities will be used now. In my area, I see most of the subcontracting "providers" are private companies - These will surely expect the market rate for any services provided. One of the (many) excuses A4e made was "training costs money. We do not fund training.". If these subcontractors expect payments, will they actually get any work out of this WP ?

    As a side note - A4e failed to get the contract in my area, so it just might be possible that things may improve for the long term unemployed around here.

  2. The Teflon Don13 June 2011 at 15:46

    I'm probably an optimist, but I'll give the Work Programme a year before it is quitely shelved - regardless of the 5 year contracts being signed.

    I can't quite see providers taking the government to court for breach of contract. That would be biting the very hand that has fed them all these years throught ND and FND and the latest incarnation (WP) - as mentioned by Anon - above.

    Th only way I can see WP having any chance of success is if the UK economy is transformed into a dymamic powerhouse like the Chinese one - where they have annual growth of some 8% and a demand for labour. Here in the UK, we have had an annual growth of 0.5%, which puts it in context. So on that topic, I'm a pessimist!

  3. Just a thought. Why an uneven number of years for these contracts if the unemplyed have to be on The Work Programme for up to two years. Strange

  4. The Teflon Don14 June 2011 at 10:32

    Simone: Perhaps I'm mistaken about the 5 years, sure I read it somewhere. Can anyone clarify the length of the WP contracts?

  5. Seven years was reported in all the welter of publicity. I'll check.

  6. Yes I thought it was seven, still uneven though! I had The Fairy Jobmother on in the background tonight as I played Solitaire. Same drivel as last week. Lets move on eh?

  7. Another jolly programme shortly on BBC1 coming up. I wonder if Emma or Hayley will figure in this series?

    The Scheme
    Tuesday 14 June
    11:05pm - 11:55pm

    1/4, series 1

    New series. Documentary following the fortunes of six families living on a large housing scheme in north-west Kilmarnock over the course of 18 months. The first programme introduces the Cunninghams, whose eldest son is about to be sent to prison, and a single mother-of-two who provides shelter to homeless people.

    VIDEO Plus+: 582153

    Subtitled, Widescreen

    Directed by: Michelle Friel, Julian Kean
    Add to Your Programmes

  8. The Teflon Don14 June 2011 at 15:39

    Simone: regarding the new series. I'm in Scotland and it was shown here a few weeks ago. Caused quite a lot of controversy amongst many residents of the council estate (scheme, as they say in Scotland)about the way it was depicted in such a negative light.

    You will be pleased to know there is no mention of Emma or Hayley

  9. Ah then I could have watched the programme after all Teflon!


    Indus Delta

    Join our Innovation Fund Partnership Forum today.

    I was curious to see if a4e might make a bid! I see they did in Australia.

  10. The Teflon Don15 June 2011 at 15:26

    Sorry, Simone. Yes, you could have. Perhaps it is on the Iplayer.

    Come to think of it, it was series here, not just one programme. So you can probably watch it next week!

  11. The subcontracting seems to a form of incest, so in the West Midlands Ingeous/Deliotte is a subcontractor to Newcastle College Group, elsewhere the roles are reversed, I think on it as a form of incest. I suspect in the medium term there will be a lot of consolidation.
    Having met with a number of voluntary organisations in Birmingham in the past week, they have virtually given up on the Work Programme. They view the contractors as untrustworthy and almost criminally unaware of the needs of the local client group, and the payment models as penal. In the past couple of months I have met with all three contractors for the West Midlands Core area, and two were clueless and if I were on JSA I would murder my advisor rather than be referred to them.

  12. I was just teasing. I could not watch quote Kids recently. All these programmes are too upsetting for me.

  13. I wouldn't support some of your vocabulary, Captain, but I know what you mean. I doubt that there will be consolidation; the market is actually becoming more competitive.

  14. Re CV skills etc I'm presently with A4E, the last of the ND "clients" as they call us.

    Some people on the course with me have done ND with A4E 3 or 4 times, and still have terrible CVs and no job hunting skills. After seeing my CV (university education) I was actually told by one of the staff that I had a better understanding of building a CV than she did and could I please help some of the others.

    I sorted out one lad's CV and then this woman came along and added some stock quotes from the handouts they give you. Full of spelling and grammatical errors. She then took his CV off to print before I could say anything, so he's still not going to be getting a job, even if he could be bothered to do anything other than throw paper aeroplanes around.

  15. There was another Fairy Gobmother programme to night which had a little bit more of my attention. Always young groups of young unemployed are featured, naturally .....


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".