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Work Programme Prospectus

DWP have today published more information about the Work Programme.  This is not the full specification (far from it) but drip feeds us a few more morsels in the banquet that is the Work Programme.

The updated Prospectus confirms that delivery will be phased in as soon as possible in each area - expectation is that some areas will go live in April with all being implemented by the "summer".

Disappointingly the eligibility criteria is not as open as originally muted and is actually worse than the current eligibility for New Deal:

  • Over 25s JSA - 1 year 
  • 18-24 JSA - 9 months
  • JSA claimants changing from Incapacity Benefit - 3 months
  • ESA Work Related Group - 3 months 
  • Current early entry groups such as ex-offenders - 3 months (mandatory & voluntary)
  • ESA - anytime (voluntary)

The aim is for people to volunteer, do work experience, join Work Clubs, participate in Work Together before joining the Work Programme.

South East, South West, North West, West Midlands and London will be split into two package areas and Yorks & Humber split into three.  There will be at least two providers in each package area - full details can be found at annex C of the Prospectus.

Funding will be split into:

  • attachment fee – aka start fee that will reduce each year and be nil by the start of year 4.
  • job outcome fee – maximum fee fixed over the life of the contract, reducing from year three of the contract as providers learn what works and deliver efficiencies.
  • sustainment fee – billed as a significant amount of the total amount we’re willing to pay fixed over the life of the contract. 

There will also be performance incentive payments, except the information is so brief and woolly that it really says nothing!  And don't get excited.  The document doesn't detail the payments each group will attract as inferred by the DWP overview.

Bidders will have to provide details of the minimum service they will offer to all customer groups which will inform publicised Key Performance Indicators.  Performance below predefined minimum levels and non-achievement of KPIs will be treated seriously!

Interestingly the Prospectus does say that Work Programme clients will be eligible for other Government-funded skills support although the Skills for Sustainable Growth Strategy does seem to indicate that JCP should use this provision to address needs early on.  It also talks about work experience brokered by JCP linking in with skills.  Does this mean that this will break the individual's unemployment and delay their entry to the Work Programme?  Will this impact on through flow?  Will JCP staff be encouraged to adopt the cheap option of work experience before the Work Programme?  Will this be effective in achieving sustained employment?

So ... the wait goes on ...


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