Insights from Within

In this special guest blog, we hear from Bill Wells in response to Richard’s recent piece on changing the way children’s services are commissioned. Bill Wells worked in DWP, BIS, and its labour market predecessors, for over 35 years. As a labour market economist he has a national and international reputation. During this time he had … Continue reading

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

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

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

The value of nothing

Chris Grayling has described many of his reforms in both employment and justice as “delivering value for money for the taxpayer”. It is difficult, however, to find evidence of the consideration of ‘value’ in recent and planned changes. Instead, as discussions about public services become increasingly polarised, cost and value are conflated. The nuance of … Continue reading

Endemic ‘creaming and parking’ on the Work Programme

(A version of the following piece first appeared on Guardian Comment on the 20th February 2013. In response to a recent research report, the piece returns to themes we have covered before regarding fundamental design flaws in the Work Programme contracts and procurement.) The Third Sector Research Council (TSRC), part-funded by the Cabinet Office, have … Continue reading

Payment model not panacea

I was recently interviewed as part of a series on Payment by Results in public services – you can see the interview here: http://www.russellwebster.com/pbr-is-not-a-panacea-but-can-be-an-effective-payment-model-says-international-work-programme-expert-jane-mansour/

Parking by place

Concerns about creaming and parking in welfare-to-work programmes are not new and have resurfaced in the last month or so, particularly in relation to clients with specific disadvantages and how well they are being served by Work Programme providers. Richard has recently written about this topic. In this context it is important to consider the … Continue reading

Another kind of welfare to work cream

(An edited version of this first appeared on The Guardian’s website on 21st February 2012.) At the recent hearing, both contractors and the DWP steadfastly refused to reveal to the Public Accounts Committee how well, or badly, the Work Progamme is performing. This week, the department revealed the number of people referred to the Programme; … Continue reading

Making the Work Programme work

(An edited version of the following article first appeared in The Guardian on 7th February 2012.) The contracts for the Work Programme were competed on price. That is, would-be providers were invited to say how cheaply they could do it, and the cheapest were then awarded the most contracts. Unfortunately, this entirely misses the point. … Continue reading