Thursday, 4 August 2011

Explaining WFE

Getting hard information about Emma Harrison's project Working Families Everywhere has been difficult. Our correspondent in Hull, one of the pilot areas, put in a Freedom of Information request to the Council but got a very uninformative reply. To a question about how participating families were selected, the reply was that it was "through a structured process of referral". According to a blog by Anna Gaunt (who is accompanying Ms Harrison) they were "meeting with families who had expressed an interest in having support on the road to employment." There's a strong clue, however, as to what's going on in a piece on the Working Families Everywhere website. It's in the form of a Q & A with John Bell, Policy Editor of ESF Works. What's that? It "exists to share the stories of the people, practice and policy that the European Social Fund in England supports." And its website has an interesting piece about the roll-out of Community Budgets. It explains that there have been 16 pilot schemes "tackling social problems around families with complex needs" and that there are 4 new pilots to develop this. "In response to this, the DWP invited companies on the Employment Related Support Services Framework to tender for ESF funding to work with families with multiple problems, helping them overcome these and break the cycle of intergenerational worklessness." It goes on: "Payment will be made mainly by results, on progress measures and job outcomes which move family members nearer to and into work and put families on the road to recovery. Bids must be made by 30th August, and a key element in their evaluation will be how well bidders have integrated partnership working with local authorities into their proposals." So that explains everything. Another big contract in the offing.
In the WFE piece Harrison again talks about "hidden jobs". The phrase was also used by a person from Working Links in a news item on BBC radio recently, talking about the Work Programme in Glasgow. It appears to mean that the providers forge relationships with employers and persuade them to take people on.
You'll be pleased to know that Emma Harrison is writing her autobiography.

1 comment:

  1. nteresting one this. I gather that the original specification was for 75% to be paid against progress while on the programme with 25% being paid against as post programme outputs.
    Had some early talks with a Prime who was over the moon about as it would have enabled them to make on programme payments to sub contractors from the voluntary and community sector. This would have supported the infrastructure of these organisations while they were delivering, and give them an incentive to achieve through an end output payment. Sometime later he phoned me back to say that DWP had introduced a second payment method based on the Work Programme model, bidders could choose either model, but if they chose the on programme and achievement payment model they would immediately loose 50 points, no matter how good their proposal. His view was that again it made it very difficult to engage with the voluntary sector who could not afford to take financial the risk.
    In the past week I have been approached by a couple of friends who have been made redundant by voluntary organisations who thought they were going to get work from Primes a on call off contract, to date nothing has come their way. This allows people like Grayling to make spurious claims about the involvement of the voluntary and community sector in the programme.
    I just wonder how long the primes are going to be able to borrow significant sums of cash against such risk laden propositions as this, particularly as the international financial system worsens.


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