18.10.10

Inquiry into Work Programme Contracting Arrangements

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee is to conduct an inquiry into the contracting arrangements proposed for the new Work Programme and other issues relating to employment support providers.

The Government intends replacing all existing welfare-to-work programmes with a single scheme, known as the Work Programme, which is planned to be in place nationally by the summer of 2011.

The Department for Work and Pensions is establishing an umbrella arrangement of approved providers (known as the Framework) which will be used to deliver the Work Programme. Private, public and voluntary sector organisations were invited to bid by the end of September for inclusion in the Framework on the basis of 11 regional lots.

The outcome of the bidding process will be known in November. Organisations who are successful in the Framework competition will then be invited to tender for Work Programme contracts in a “mini-competition” to begin in December. Contracts are expected to be awarded by the end of January 2011.

The areas on which the Select Committee’s inquiry will focus include:  

  • The steps the Department for Work and Pensions needs to take to ensure that a procurement programme of this size and complexity is managed effectively and delivers high quality outcomes
  • The extent to which the Work Programme will differ from existing contracted employment programmes
  • The relationship between prime contractors and sub-contractors and DWP’s role in overseeing this relationship
  • The role of Jobcentre Plus in delivering the Work Programme, including the lessons learned from the Delegated Flexibility Pilots
  • The implications for providers of the increase in volume and the change in profile of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants arising from the migration from Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance
  • The implications for providers of “payments by results” arrangements, with particular reference to the voluntary and social enterprise sector
  • The likely effectiveness of a differential payment scheme in encouraging providers to support harder to help groups
  • The implications of regional variations in the labour market, and whether these will be reflected in the differential payment arrangements

The deadline for submission of written evidence is 25 November 2010.

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