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/

The Council Catch 22

As the rioters circle parliament in Athens and national strikes bring Italy, Spain and Portugal to a standstill, the same glaring gap exists in Europe as Jane identified in her blog’s recent challenge to the US presidential candidates.  Belt-tightening may well be necessary, but where is the plan for jobs? Commissioning may hold the key. … Continue reading

Buying a horse-drawn cart for the West Coast Main Line

It was a brave decision to terminate the franchising of the West Coast Main Line and is indicative of the integrity of our civil service. It is wrong to heap responsibility on the heads of three officials (now suspended from the Department for Transport), who were probably following, with utmost professionalism, a clear process. This … 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

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

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

The myth of multiple contractors

If A4E’s position as a prime contractor of the Work Programme becomes untenable amid the current fraud furor, the Minister, Chris Grayling, has said he will terminate their contracts and take all their jobseekers away.  As of last week, according to the Department for Work and Pensions figures, A4E are currently responsible for just over … 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