Friday, 21 March 2014

Work Programme stats, and the PAC

We used to complain that no data was being released on the effectiveness of the Work Programme.  Now we have all the data we could wish for, it seems, in the figures put out yesterday.  You can see the document here.  Some key figures are on the first page, but you'll need to get your calculator out.  If we look at the "by all referrals" June 2011 to Dec 2013, we see that just under 19% of those on the programme long enough got an outcome.  (The Factcheck blog says 17%.)  But then look at how that tapers off, so that only 48,000 people were in work long enough for the provider to claim the full payments.  In other words, the jobs tend to be temporary.  24,000 got 3-6 months of work, but then were back on the programme, and in all 352,000 have finished the WP and been referred back to the jobcentre.  The other key fact from all of this is that while the figures for JSA claimants are considered satisfactory, they are terrible for those on ESA.  For a good summary, read Channel 4's Factcheck blog.  Looking at the breakdown by provider, we see that A4e isn't the worst-performing, but it's a long way from being the best.
Is it worth it?  That's the really important question.  Millions have been paid out to companies like A4e to achieve only a little above what would be expected with no intervention at all (and below that with ESA).  The likelihood is that the vast majority of the jobs are down to the improving economy.  So what's the point?

Other news takes us back to ATOS.  The Public Accounts Committee had a go at the civil servants in the DWP and one of the bosses of Atos over the failure of the new PIPs assessment contract.  The Guardian reported Margaret Hodge's interrogation of Robert Devereux, the Permanent Secretary.  They have crossed swords before, and her questions revolved around the same issues as she has fumed over with the Work Programme.  How can you give a new contract to a company which is in the process of bodging a similar contract?  (My phrasing, not hers.)  He said, "We are making a decision on the bids in front of us."  As he has said before, the procurement process deliberately doesn't look at past performance.  And they did not check that what Atos had put in its bid document was true.  On the PIPs bid, Atos had claimed to have agreements with a large number of hospital trusts and physiotherapy practices, but far fewer actually signed up in the end.  That meant that another claim, that everyone facing assessment would have a centre within an hour's travel time, has gone by the board.  Huge backlogs are building up.  Hodge had a go at the Atos person for misleading the DWP.  But this sort of thing is common with the procurement process which the DWP has shaped.  The big companies must form "partnerships" with smaller outfits, and can then list on their bid documents a number of sub-contractors who have, in fact, signed nothing and can duck out once they see the small print.
It's obvious to everybody that there has to be a better way.


  1. If you think about it the fact that A4e and other Work Programme providers have only managed to find permanent work for 48,000 people over THREE years should suggest to the Tory govt' that it is very, very hard to find work if you are long-term unemployed.

    No doubt they will ignore this and continue to blame those out of work.

  2. Sick of the Work Programme21 March 2014 at 05:33

    Unsurprisingly, the number of people in work long enough for A4e etc to claim job outcome payments isn't particularly high. It will be very interesting to see how providers cope financially from next month when the government pulls the plug on the £400 referral payment providers currently get for each person sent on the Work Programme.

  3. I browsed the dwp report,it is very unclear when it comes to outcome payments,xxx payments were made and xxx people were assigned,but there is no break down,were multiple payments made to the same client? How many people are still employed after 2 years,very vague,as an example,50000 people attended a match and 200000 pints were sold,does that mean everybody had 4,No,was everybody over the limit? it is to generalised and does not pass the smell test,HMRC would not allow this.

  4. Unfortunately A4E are in the bidding for probation service work, god help those victims/workers and cases that fall in with this lot.

  5. 'The procurement process deliberately doesn't look at past performance.'

    Eh? Surely, contracts should only be issued based on the ability of the company to handle it successfully? This ability can only be accurately established by looking at past performances.

    It appears to me the gov't are DELIBERATELY ignoring the failure of 'out sourcing' because to admit it has failed would also mean admitting that the private sector cannot effectively tackle the problem of long-term unemployment.

    It always amuses me that the Tories advocate that the unemployed and poor take more responsibility over their own lives (not necessarily wrong) but at the same time condone the failure of the private sector and the financial sector to act in a responsible way.

  6. Historian - on an unrelated note are you aware of the idea of 'Time Credits'. Look it up. This has the potential to destroy ALL public sector jobs.

    As an example, Wigan Council are asking for volunteers to run their local libraries.

    1. Yes, there seem to be quite a few local authorities doing it. BUT - "The only people who cannot earn Time Credits are those who are expected to give their time anyway as part of the conditions of their employment, or those on a course where there is a compulsory volunteering element." And that rules out workfare victims, by the look of it.

    2. I know these aren't your words but 'compulsory volunteering' is a CLEAR contradiction!

      There is nothing to stop councils asking employees for 'voluntary redundancy' and then recruiting for volunteers down the line. This has already happened at my local library.

      Wigan Council have suggested that if local communities do not volunteer they may have to close down libraries and swimming pools!

      Trust me, this is going to be a BIG story in the future if council tax is capped again and councils have to make further cuts. I know that local primary schools are asking parents to help in schools to replace TA's.

      This is the Tory 'Big Society' in action. Public Sector jobs replaced by volunteers. Decreasing 'real' employment, decreasing productivity, less money in the economy, lower tax revenues, further cuts, REPEAT!!!


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