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

Black box or empty box?

In an attempt to move away from central prescription of service design, the Work Programme adopted a ‘black box’ approach. However, a misunderstanding of this concept erodes service quality and looks likely to exacerbate an outcome gap between disadvantaged groups. Immediate transparent and nuanced performance reporting may ameliorate this, along with negotiation of minimum quality … Continue reading

Painting rocks or work experience?

In the midst of the battle over work experience between the supposed Trotskyites and the Minister for Employment, the voice of one person is being drowned out. It is often the case in an employment services system that is essentially paternalistic and disempowering. In ignoring that voice, we miss the real answer to the problem. … 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