They made their bed

The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) have just commenced buying the new Work and Health Programme. This will replace the existing Work Programme, which has run since the coalition government came to power. It will be the layer of services, contracted out mainly to private sector ‘welfare to work’ providers, that is intended to … Continue reading

Public open markets are private closed shops

Is a Social Serco possible? Challenging the public sector monopoly on some public services has the potential to deliver better social impact. However, the difficulty in opening a public sector market to competition from other sectors is that market making is an inherent feature of the private sector. Public and third sectors, apparently, are not … 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

Stewards’ enquiry

We are delighted to present a guest blog from Sam Sims of the Institute for Government, co-author of their latest report on public service markets and commissioning. The report cites a number of apparent market failures and makes urgent recommendations for if, when and how public services should be taken to market and managed once … Continue reading

Failing without accountability

In the US a significant proportion of charter schools are delivering weaker than expected performance, with little consequence for the contract holders. On Monday (19th March) Chris Grayling, the UK Minister for Employment, faced the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Select Committee and underlined his commitment to culling failing Work Programme providers and transferring … 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