Dos and Don’ts from Down Under

In the late nineties, as Blair and co were rolling out the New Deals and experimenting with contestability at the edges of Jobcentre Plus, the Australians were outsourcing their Commonwealth Employment Service in its entirety. The two countries have watched each other closely ever since. With roughly similar welfare systems, we keep looking to the … Continue reading

No worries mate! (As long as you don’t want to eat)

If people in the UK think the government aren’t tough enough on unemployed benefit claimants, they should look to Australia for ideas. But they should be very careful what they wish for. There is a virulent stream of political rhetoric in Australia, feeding and fed by public opinion, suggesting that benefit claimants are nothing but … Continue reading

The Serco smoke screen

We must be careful that the corporate failures of the big outsourcers in the UK, such as Serco and G4S, do not become a smoke screen behind which failures of the commissioners are forgotten. Media coverage this week of Serco’s failure to hold on to their £600m Docklands Light Railway (DLR) contract has focused on … Continue reading

Lies, Damned Lies and Rhetoric

“The logic and evidence for full employment are strong, and someday, hopefully soon, logic and evidence will matter again” Bernstein and Baker, Introduction to Getting Back to Full Employment, November 2013 (emphasis added) What a depressing end to an introduction. A concession that the thesis that follows may not gain traction with politicians and the … Continue reading

Out of work and out of sight

Now you see them… The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) have been charting workers missing from the US economy – not working, but not classified as ‘unemployed’ either. As of last month their calculations show over 6 million people of working age fit this category. If these missing workers start looking for work, or are otherwise … Continue reading

Up to the Job? File on 4

Richard appeared in the File on 4 programme Up to the Job on the Work Programme Programme Description: Up to the Job? Duration: 38 minutes First broadcast: Tuesday 05 November 2013 The Work Programme is the Government’s flagship scheme designed to help the long term unemployed off benefits and into lasting jobs. But how well … Continue reading

The Politics of Ivy

“They have learned nothing – literally nothing” David Cameron David Cameron’s criticism of Labour captures the broader frustration of many listening to the political parties play benefit bingo over the last few weeks. Shirkers – check; something for nothing – check; hard-working – check; tough – check; work that pays – check. Think you’ve heard … Continue reading

The path to the precipice

We are blithely rushing along a path towards a fundamental change in our welfare system that will have far-reaching social and fiscal consequences. There is a perfect storm of a poorly contracted Work Programme, political rhetoric, and short-term accounting practice. It is propelling us towards the edge and the introduction of a precipice system for … Continue reading

Risky business

The following piece appeared in The Guardian on 22nd May 2013. It is banging a drum we have been beating on here repeatedly. The underspend on the Work Programme (as noted in the Select Committee’s newly published report) is a stark example of a key point we are trying to make about the relationship between … Continue reading

Selling tomorrow

In her last post, Jane talked about how an exclusive focus on cost in the reform of public services is to the detriment of the value of those services. Far from delivering ‘value for money’, a blinkered focus on short-term ‘savings’, and consequent loss of value, may ultimately drive up long-term cost. In the last … Continue reading