Work Programme payment model not working

Mon, 15/04/2013 - 12:13 -- nick

Work Programme providers do not receive enough money to deliver vital support to their unemployed clients, a report has found.

Companies that provide the Programme are paid a small amount when a jobseeker joins them, but only receive major payments when the clients has been found work and when they have stayed in work for a period.

The government study, reported in The Guardian, showed that more people needed extra help, including interpretation for those with English language problems, and transport for those in rural areas.

The lack of transport is a particular issue, as the programme works on a one-to-one model of support for jobseekers.

A January report by the House of Commons public accounts committe called the Programme "extremely poor" after finding it had only supported 3.6% of clients into work, lower than the figure expected if unemployed people had received no help.

Providers complained that they "did not have the funding to provide the level of support they wanted".

However, the funding model was designed to insulate the public purse from the underperformance of providers by paying them for positive results, and it will be of concern to the government that delivery bodies appear to be refusing to fund upfront support before they receive major payments.

Providers suggested that they were being asked to deliver to too many unemployed people, although extra investment in frontline staff would allow all to receive the required support.

To avoid having to pay for the expensive one-to-one sessions, the report shows "support was provided online or in group sessions, with one-to-one support used only where necessary", and that delivery bodies were "very limited in the amount of time" they could provide to clients.

Extra support that needs to be delivered over an extended period, like basic skills, was neglected, with providers saying "We do try and provide it as best we can but not to the level that would really make a difference to the customer."

This may account for some of the underperformance of the programme to date.

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