In March 2013, we released our second
report on the Work Programme in London. Fair Chance to Work 2
analyses the first set of Work Programme performance data, reviews
the experience of VCS subcontractors, and gathers evidence on the
impact of the programme on the wider VCS and on disadvantaged
Fair chance to work - Experiences
from the first phase of Work Programme delivery in London (PDF,
22 March 2013 Fair Chance to Work 2: Vulnerable Work Programme
customers need greater protection (PDF)
The Work Programme is a universal new
scheme to help unemployed people back into work. However, unless
VCS groups play a greater role in its delivery, there is risk that
employment inequalities in London will get even worse and that the
Work Programme wont deliver on its targets.
Read our report below and press release into VCS
involvement in the Work Programme and employment inequalities in
Fair Chance to Work
- VCS experiences of Work Programme in London - LVSC Oct
LVSC wants to see the Work Programme
get a fair chance to succeed, because every Londoner deserves a
fair chance to work.
London has a highly competitive labour
market and high levels of unemployment and worklessness. Lone
parents, disabled people, and Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic
(BAME) people have lower rates of employment in London than in the
rest of the UK.
A mandatory and universal
programme, the Work Programme has the potential to be instrumental
in tackling London's persistent inequalities in employment, skills,
LVSC is campaigning to increase VCS
delivery within the Work Programme, to ensure that all Londoners
get the kind of support they need to give them the best chance of
finding work, regardless of the barriers they face.
LVSC has reviewed published information
on Work Programme supply chains in London, and (in partnership with
ACEVO) surveyed VCS subcontractors to identify concerns and issues
arising at this early stage of the initiative.
A number of groups are delivering
successfully at present, but there is enormous unused capacity
within the sector, and we have not yet seen the 'massive boost' for
VCS providers that Employment Minister Chris Grayling called for
when the Work Programme began.
- A number of VCS groups are well
underway delivering 'tier 1' or 'end to end' Work Programme
subcontracts and supporting Londoners back into work. However, most providers report that prime
contractors have simply passed the Work Programme's high risk
outcome based pricing structure on to groups in their supply
chains, regardless of size or financial capacity of
- TUPE obligations have imposed a
considerable burden in terms of cost and resource at the very time
these groups were gearing up for delivery.
- The vast majority of specialist
'tier 2' providers have had no Work Programme customers referred to
them at all.
- There is a grave risk that the
expertise of those specialist groups will be lost unless they are
given greater certainty regarding the number of customers they can
expect to work with.
- Levels of confidence among VCS
subcontractors that the Work Programme will succeed in meeting its
minimum performance levels, or that the payments on offer will
incentivise providers to help the most disadvantaged customers, are
- DWP has not yet finalised plans for
monitoring the performance of the Work Programme. Careful
monitoring is needed to ensure that the most disadvantaged
customers are not 'parked', and that employment inequalities for
groups such as lone parents, disabled people, and minority ethnic
groups do not get worse.
- We are still in the early stages of
the Work Programme, and it is not too late to adjust aspects of its
design to ensure it delivers fairly for the hardest to help, and
that specialist VCS providers play the kind of role that the
government wishes to see.
- Specialist VCS subcontractors need
greater certainty around prices and volumes, in order to make sound
business planning decisions.
- Communication between primes and
supply chains needs to be improved.
- Government must provide clear
guidance about what good prime-subcontractor relationships should
look like within the Work Programme.
- DWP must properly measure and
scrutinise the way the Work Programme is supporting disadvantaged
groups, through its programme monitoring and evaluation
- The Work Programme pricing mechanism
should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity, to ensure that
outcomes for London customers are equitable with customers
elsewhere in the UK; and that persistent inequalities in employment
rates are being addressed and not getting worse.
- The impact of TUPE regulations on
frontline staff, primes, and subcontractors should be reviewed, so
that lessons from Work Programme commissioning can be taken forward
in other areas public sector reform.
For more information, contact LVSC
Policy Officer Steve Kerr.