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The Work Programme One Year On

Chris Grayling celebrated the birthday of the Work Programme with a speech today at the Institute of Economic Affairs, with an audience that included employers as well as those who have found work with support from the Work Programme.

While we don't quite agree with the fact that there is a revolution underway (more's the pity) this opening set the tone for CG's upbeat speech. You can view the transcript at the DWP website (click here).

He acknowledged the unwelcome headlines but countered this with recognition from the National Audit Office that the design of the Work Programme had addressed the weaknesses in previous programmes through it's payment by results and validation regime.

Repeating the mantra about the Statistics Act not allowing publication of inadequate data, he highlighted the emerging data (published by ERSA) which shows a job entry rate of 22% for those who joined the programme in the first three months of operation, with individual providers achieving between 18% and 26%.  There are no figures about sustainability but CG was confident enough to say that a substantial majority are staying in work once they get there. He was quite happy to refer to the anecdotal feedback from providers as a decent start.

In his usual position of being relaxed about failing providers, CG said that he felt that some providers who fall behind their competitors may drop out of the Work Programme.  He sees this as a sign of success that enables the best rise to the top while getting rid of poor performers.  While he did talk about increasing referrals to providers who are performing better, the market shift clause doesn't actually impact unitl 2013, so unless DWP are going to change contracts to bring this forward the only way there is going to be such a change is if a provider is being performance managed by DWP because they are failing.  As DWP don't yet have robust data on which to base their decisions, this could be an incredibly unwise move from a legal perspective.  

CG talked about how the different customer groups was not the same mix as initially expected eg less ESA participants, more JSA, but also how it has been expanded with the Youth Contract and the Day 1 entry for offenders.  He finished on an upbeat note marking the UK out to be a world leader in welfare to work with what he considers to be a pretty good start.

30 May 2012 

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