Thursday, 18 November 2010

Those figures

The DWP has released the figures for Flexible New Deal outcomes; you can download them from their site here. They are not immediately understandable, since all you get is the starts and outcomes for each month and, of course, the outcomes don't relate to the starts. What you can see straight away is how bad the figures are, and that A4e has performed comparably with the others.
There are two articles which interpret these figures in very different ways. One is by Alex Barber in the Financial Times. He asks "What has gone wrong with welfare-to-work?" and includes a graph to show how far below expectation the outcomes are. Barber argues that Grayling's criticism of the Labour government is misplaced. "Grayling argues it [paying too much money up front] destroyed incentives. But companies were still paid the bulk of their fee for getting someone into work. Not only that, but the Work Programme will also include upfront payments. It will just be called something like an 'activation fee'." And the "help based on individual needs" promised in the Work Programme will be little different from FND.
Another perspective altogether comes from Neil O'Brien in the Telegraph. O'Brien is one of those dangerous young men who provide the theoretical justification for political ideology. With no personal experience or historical insight he assumes the part of an authority on the subject, with selective use of data, and he wants to give more power to the providers to "sanction" people. He includes a table which shows that A4e's performance is slightly better than its competitor in each area. O'Brien has been around the media lately -he was on The Moral Maze last week - touting his view that we should have the time-limited kind of welfare-to-work that exists in some other countries, notably America.
Meanwhile, there's a whole new world of opportunity opening up for A4e. The government have endorsed the idea that groups of public service workers should turn themselves into "mutuals" or co-operatives. The bit they don't mention is that they would then have to bid for the contracts to provide the services. Even if the private companies don't get the contracts first time round, they will soon be picking them off.

1 comment:

  1. Referring to a post Historian made on th 1st May when a press report claimed that "More than 400 long-term unemployed people in the Black Country have won jobs with local firms thanks to support and advice from welfare-to-work provider A4e" - We can now see that that those figures were total hogwash and fall well short of the 25% success rate promised. But then spin and misleading statements based on questionable data is part and parcel of the A4e business model.

    Let's hope that there is greater accountability and penalties built in to the new contracts.


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