Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Turf Wars?

We reported back in October that the winners of the contracts to use ESF money to tackle "entrenched worklessness" had been announced. Why, then, has it taken until today for the government to put out a press release about it?

The basic details come in a piece from the Press Association. It is announced as a coherent scheme to "be delivered by a mixture of public, private and voluntary organisations which will be paid by results" but is still confused about the distinction between the "£448 million for councils to send in trouble-shooters to such families over the next four years" and the new £200 million ESF money going to the private companies. It will be payment by results. The news media, as usual, have put their own spin on this basic announcement, without doing any research of their own."The Daily Mail, bless 'em, have the headline "Charities and private firms to be paid £15,000 to turn around each 'Shameless' family". The excuse for that, apparently, is some rubbish on Channel 4, and the Mail is determined to make the label stick. The piece focusses entirely on the new contracts, and they say that "Providers will be paid in three stages – when they have made a member of a troublemaking family sign up to a personal action plan, when the plan is completed, and finally when the individual has moved into employment. In total, a three-year contract will be worth up to £15,000 per family." The Telegraph has a more measured approach, and point out that 40% of the money is an "attachment fee" when the family sign up. (That's £6,000 before doing anything.) The BBC, striving to be neutral, says, "Eight specialist welfare-to-work firms have been appointed to help individuals overcome barriers to getting a job and staying in work. These include skills like timekeeping, writing a CV and job interviews."

What no one is explaining is how all these professionals are supposed to work together. The local councils have taken on, or redeployed, people to work specifically with these "troubled families"; some of these people are the remnants of Emma Harrison's "family champions". Now there are private companies involved as well. Are there going to be two, at least, people fighting over a family to claim the credit and the payment? How sad that A4e won't be involved.

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