Payment Premiums for Hardest-to-Help under the Work Programme

The Government has confirmed that Work Programme providers will receive more money for getting the hardest-to-help into work and keeping them there.

The confirmation has been given in its response to the Work and Pensions’ Select Committee’s recent report on the Management and Administration of Contracted Employment Programmes

Amongst its many recommendations, the Committee had said it believed it was “crucial” to incentivise contractors to work with all customers, so that the hardest-to-help individuals are not ‘parked’ as being too difficult to get into work.  The Government has confirmed that this will happen:

“Outcome payments available (for contractors) will be higher the harder it is to get someone a sustained job, better matching the cost of supporting the harder to help and the benefits that result,” it says in its response.

Although whether the payments will automatically apply to all individuals within recognised harder-to-help groups, or will be based on some sort of individualised assessment for each jobseeker is not clear. 

Amongst the Committee’s other concerns were the treatment of sub-contractors under existing outsourced employment support service programmes and alleged attempts by ‘prime’ contractors to squeeze others out of the market.

The Government has responded that it expects the implementation of the Merlin Standard, a new supply chain accreditation, amongst the Framework providers in the Work Programme will address many of the issues that the Committee and others have  raised.  These include ensuring that providers pay their supply chain partners within 30 days and that sub-contractors will be consulted as part of Merlin Standard assessments on the ‘primes’ they are working with.

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