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Qualitative Report on the Work Programme

To coincide with the release of job outcome data, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a research report entitled Work Programme evaluation: Findings from the first phase of qualitative research on programme delivery.

The report examined six contract package areas, interviewing provider and Jobcentre Plus staff, customers and observing delivery. This detailed report looks at all stages of the programme from the knowledge of Jobcentre Plus staff in advising participants what to expect, through to referral, assessment, pre-work support and in-work support, as well as the issue of 'creaming and parking', sanctions and personalisation.

While the report itself acknowledges that this is an early evaluation and is not conclusive, there are some interesting findings:

  • The sanction process is slow and ineffective, with providers and JCP putting the blame on each other for the failure.
  • There is some personalisation of the programme for individuals but this is constrained by costs, with personalisation not necessarily resulting in use of highly specialised tailored services to address personal barriers to work.
  • Jobsearch activity dominates delivery, with few providers referring participants for training or specialist provision.
  • Providers recognise that good and effective links with employers are critical for successful outcomes, but there is still some way to go in developing these relationships.
  • Efforts by providers to rebuild confidence and motivation are worthwhile, and there is feedback from participants to suggest that this is happening, with some positive effects on the individuals concerned. 
  • Providers routinely classify participants according to their assessed distance from work, and provide more intensive support to the most ‘job-ready’. Harder-to-help participants are left with infrequent routine contact with advisers, and often with little or no likelihood of referral to specialist support to address their specific barriers to work. Some of the harder-to-help group, despite the less frequent contact with advisers, were receiving more substantial support when they did have contact with providers.
  • Sustainability is more likely to be achieved with multiple jobs than an individual retaining a single job.  
  • Early in-work support is working well but there are issues with some participants not wanting to be contacted regularly by providers which could cause difficulties in evidencing sustainment.
  • A persistent theme was the poor or inadequate communication between Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers which appears to be generating problems in performance, particularly the sanctions process and resource planning.

This research report provides a good range of information that offers an interesting backdrop to the performance information published today.

Click here to download the summary report, and here for the full research report.

27 November 2012


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