Work Programme performance – June 2013

Ramzi Suleiman was at NCVO between January 2013 and December 2014, leading on NCVO’s Work Programme initiatives and running the work shadowing ‘Day in the Life…’ scheme. Ramzi has left NCVO, but his posts are kept here for reference purposes.

Yesterday the government published The Work Programme Stats.

We can see that yesterday’s figures show an improvement from last year’s performance, in the Work Programme for certain long term unemployed. Eighteen of the 40 contracts achieved or exceeded the Minimum Performance Levels for the JSA 18 – 25 and JSA 25 and over. However, like many service providers, and other charities, I remain very concerned that the Work Programme is still failing individuals furthest from the labour market.

None of the providers achieved the Minimum Performance Levels for the ESA claimant group. The best performing contract achieved an 8.1% job outcome level – which is half the agreed MPL.  Over the two years since its launch, only 5.3% of ESA claimants have found long term employment.

It is clear that the Work Programme is failing those who are furthest from the labour market

The data yesterday revealed that over 160,000 ESA claimants have been referred to the Work Programme since its inception. This is over 10% of the total number of overall referrals to the Work Programme. This puts into doubt the claims by some Prime contractors that they have not had the referrals of those ‘hard to help’ in order to pass them onto sub-contractors. Until the government publishes more transparent data, the accusation of Prime contractors ‘creaming and parking’ individuals will continue to surround the Work Programme.

The government should look again at supply chain relationships to ensure charities expertise is being used. Many charities will be well placed to help those with multiple barriers bus anecdotal evidence suggest, many charities are simply not getting the referrals.

The Government recognises the potential contribution of the charity sector in the Work Programme. Charities are well placed and have the expertise to help those furthest from the labour. It is now time for steps to be taken to allow charities to use their skills to full effect or find out why charities are not being given the chance to fulfil their potential within the Work Programme.

Fuller data would mean the Government publish referral data below the Prime contractor level. This would make clear to what extent Primes are using their supply chain and allow Best Practice to emerge.

The accusations of ‘creaming and parking’ could be clarified if the Government published fuller data

NCVO welcomes the steps that the DWP is already making by setting up the Best Practice Group for the Work Programme. The Best Practice Group should be a chance for everyone involved in the Work Programme – the government, primes and subs alike – to step back and look at the Programme as a whole.

In this post, I have highlighted two inter-related issues. With better and more transparent data, the government can properly monitor the supply chains that are vital to the success of the Work Programme. A more rigorous monitoring system, would encourage Primes to use the expertise within charities and help those who are currently furthest from the labour market.

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