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Conservative Vision of Welfare to Work

Theresa May took to the stage at the Conservative party conference yesterday to share her vision for Welfare to Work.  Get Britain Working is the package that will “radically improve the support on offer to the thousands of people currently unemployed”.

There was very little new in the speech (either at a policy level where the current government are already taking many of the steps announced, or with what has previously been announced). The concern is how extreme the policies would be if the Conservatives win the next election. 

The most important announcement for many providers was confirmation that the Conservatives would not sign any fND contracts. So what impact is this going to have on the current Phase 2 bidding round? If you assume that the Conservatives will win the next election, who is going to invest time and money putting in a bid for fND? And where will this leave the country for the next year? The Conservatives are right that welfare to work provision needs a shake up but can that really wait for another two years while the country is suspended in no mans land between the old and the new? And how radically different is the Work Programme going to be anyway? 

So if you were feeling decidedly unsettled by the current changes ... be prepared to be even more unsettled!  We usually try to bring some balance to our news, but can’t currently think of the up side to this.

More detail from conference is that Theresa May has pledged to:

 

  • simplify Labour’s complicated and bureaucratic back to work programmes into a single programme the Work Programme. We’re all for simplification and cutting bureaucracy, but how many times has that been promised?!
  • introduce hundreds of thousands of extra Apprenticeships, college places and work pairings to help young people get the skills they need to find sustainable long term jobs - extension of the YPG and other current initiatives.
  • change how welfare to work providers are incentivised with payments by results and higher fees for those who need the most help to get back in to work - further development of the existing approach.
  • retest all the existing claimants of Incapacity Benefit and moving those found to be fit for work onto JSA -continuing the reform that has already started with work readiness assessments.
  • use experts from the private and voluntary sector to get people back into work - is it us or does anyone feel that this really isn’t anything new!
  • only pay providers when they have moved someone off benefits and into a sustainable job - ala fND although it has been reported that there will be less up front and sustainability will be a year.

 

On a brighter note, it’s only 78 days until Christmas and the sun is shining today.

 


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