9 June 2011
Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling, has issued a Written Ministerial Statement about government plans for the new Work Programme.
The statement says:
“The Government has previously announced its plans for radical reforms of the welfare to work system and the implementation of the Work Programme. The Work Programme will be a single integrated package of support providing personalised help for everyone who finds themselves out of work regardless of the benefit they claim.
“This will give providers longer to work with individuals and greater freedom to decide the appropriate support for them. We will also offer stronger incentives for providers to work with the harder to help, paying providers out of the additional benefits they realise as a result of placing people into work.
“We are determined to move quickly and are aiming to have the Work Programme in place nationally by the summer of 2011.
“Until the Work Programme is implemented, we will ensure support is in place. Where necessary, we will seek to extend current arrangements to ensure that there is no gap in provision and people can continue to receive help and support to get back into work.
“Once the Work Programme is implemented it will supersede much of the complicated raft of national programmes currently on offer and these will be phased out. The support currently provided by programmes such as the Flexible New Deal will be folded into the Work Programme as soon as possible.
“We are committed to supporting severely disabled people and are currently reviewing the best way of doing this.
“The Government has today written to relevant providers and will be beginning one to one discussions with them to discuss what this means for them. We believe that the Work Programme will offer significant new opportunities for contractors from the private and voluntary sectors to deliver truly flexible and personalised support, building appropriate partnerships to do so. We recognise the crucial role that the voluntary sector in particular has to play in tackling worklessness, and our plans reflect this.
“We will be publishing further details as the design and implementation of the Work Programme progresses.”
Earlier this month, Action for M.E. asked the DWP what activities a claimant might be expected to undertake as part of the Work Programme (WP). We were told:
“We are not being prescriptive in how the WP is delivered and therefore cannot specify what the WP will look like.
“Providers will have considerable freedom to determine what activities each customer will undertake in order to help them into, and to sustain, employment.
“Specialist delivery partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors are best placed to identify the best ways of getting people back to work, and will be allowed the freedom to do so without detailed prescription from central government.
“We will specify some minimum requirements (for example around data security) but these will be minimised.
“During implementation and when the WP is in live running we will look for light touch methods to assure delivery of the proposals and standards, as set out in the bids and to minimise the burden on Providers.
“Providers will be expected to work with customers, based upon their individual needs. They should use their experience and expertise to meet the needs of customers, acknowledging that the skills, personal circumstances, capability and capacity to move into sustained employment, is individual to each customer.
“WP Providers will determine what provision and activities a customer participating on the WP will undertake and for the majority of customers have the autonomy to decide the mandatory nature of any such activity and or training. For example, Providers may decide attendance and participation to be voluntary for some, where for others they may notify and mandate.”
We were referred to the ‘customer journey’ in Annex 2 of the invitation to tender (itT) document which the DWP produced for potential service providers.