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MoJ Learning from DWP?

Following the withdrawal of Tomorrow's People from the Work Programme in Barking and Dagenham last week, the Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea have also pulled out of the Work Programme. This time not on the basis of low referrals, but because it restricted the way the charity worked with its clients.

Kirsty Palmer, chief executive has said her organisation had enjoyed a good working relationship with its prime contractor and the programme had worked reasonably well financially.  

She adds, "We thought that the best way to influence the service was to be inside it, to speak with the voice of evidence back to the primary contractor and say ‘This works and this is great, but this doesn’t and this is our suggestion’. But our experience was that they simply didn’t want to listen."

This raises concerns about the Ministry of Justice offender rehabilitation contracts.  Kirsty highlights that MoJ are using similar rhetoric to used during the Work Programme commissioning process, saying that it would be a great opportunity for local providers.  The experience of the Volunteer Centre within the Work Programme not been so.  Click here for more of Kirsty's comments.  

The problem with any department using a model based on the Work Programme, is that the Work Programme model has not yet proven successful. 

So will we learn from experience or are we going to take the ostrich approach and keep insisting that this time it will be different?  Apparently in this case the official line is that the MoJ is committed to "The Compact" which sets out how public and voluntary sector organisations should treat each other, so all will be well.  Has the Merlin Standard achieved any lasting difference within the Work Programme supply chain?  Is blind faith in a standard going to take the place of common sense in commissioning?  Only time will tell.

13 June 2013


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