Purpose

This blog is co-produced by Richard Johnson and Jane Mansour. We hope our combined experience and perspectives can stimulate a valuable debate and possibly offer useful ideas.

We are interested in the relationship between the state – specifically the state purse – and the services it purchases on behalf of citizens. Our focus is on how commissioning/procurement shapes these services and how this relationship can be enhanced.

How do we create and manage services that are more effective and efficient? How do we measure success? How do we ensure quality? How do we manage failure? What role does price play? What are the optimal funding models? How do we shift from short-term constraints to long-term impact?

We have significant experience in welfare to work, particularly in the provision of services to tackle long-term unemployment. We have managed nationally successful programmes, and designed a funding model that challenged existing thinking, was the basis of a DWP pilot and is featured in part in the UK’s Work Programme. Our highly regarded original policy papers and responses have been the focus of discussion with Government, opposition, academics, think tanks and practitioners.

We believe unemployment sits at the heart of wellbeing for individuals, families, communities and societies. The experience of worklessness impinges on the delivery, and cost, across often-silo’d public services. Decrease unemployment, increase employment, and you reduce the cost to the state of social exclusion’s drag with, for example, educational underperformance, poor health, high demands on social care, and high crime and recidivism. Can we use procurement and contract management to join up services and funding from these silos?

There have been developments in the procurement, design and delivery of welfare-to-work services, in the UK and elsewhere, that offer wider lessons. These particularly relate to the use of outcome-based finding or ‘payment by results’. (Though it would be our contention that the Work Programme offers an insight into the pitfalls such contracting must avoid rather than as an example of good practice.)

We are currently based in Europe (Richard) and the US (Jane), and Jane previously lived and worked in the UK and Australia. We have worked in the public, private and not for profit sectors.

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