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fND - Government Response

The government response to the Work and Pensions Committee’s Second Report on the DWP Commissioning Strategy and the Flexible New Deal, published on 5 March 2009, has just been published (download a copy below or visit the parliament website for more information).

There isn’t much to shout about, and for those providers involved in bidding and post tender negotiations for fND there won't be many surprises. However, we’ve pulled a few snippets out for those of you who haven't been involved.

Re the concern that the indicative budget for Flexible New Deal (FND) is not enough - the response highlights the £1.7bn funding allocation in the Budget to ensure that fND can cater for higher volumes of jobseekers during the economic downturn.  It also highlights the fact that bidders were asked to revise their performance offer for fND in March. What some of you may not know is that the original funding model of 80% (outcome) and 20% (fee based) appears to have been shelved, with DWP asking bidders to use a 60:40 (60% outcome: 40% fee based) model for the initial 18 month phase. 

Re the lack of realistic targets eg targets requiring a 37.5% improvement in job outcome performance over what has been achieved by DWP contractors in the past along with a significant reduction in funding compared to the best performing DWP programmes - the response states that the original targets were based in part upon the best performing Employment Zone contracts and “a considered view” of what DWP thinks providers should be able to achieve. The response also recognises that performance expectations may not be possible early in contracts, or in every labour market so performance offers may be lower for the first couple of years.

Re the lack of clarification regarding the Ofsted inspection regime for fND - the response states that DWP will work closely with Ofsted, Estyn and HMIe to develop an inspection model for fND during 2009/10 with a schedule of inspection starting in April 2010.  It further highlights the DWP Quality Framework as an underpinning factor  in the approach to quality for fND. 

Re the Code of Conduct being "vague" and not properly enforced and the suggestion of having an independent Ombudsman - the response states that DWP have explored ways of making the Code more robust and are committed to taking the Code through an accreditation process.  It will also be strengthened to show how risk should be transferred through supply chain structures, and confirms that an advisory board will provide the equivalent of an "ombudsman service" to mediate cases where providers have shown capricious behaviour.

Well, those are the main highlights that some of you may not have been aware of, but feel free to read the whole of Tony McNulty’s response for yourself!

DWP Commissioning Strategy & fND - Government Response

Please click the PDF logo to download the paper.

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