Select Committee on Work and Pensions Sixth Report

10 Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We believe the Government should quantify the potential administrative savings for service providers that can be generated by co-financing and identify ways in which these savings can be realised. (Paragraph 56)

2.  We further recommend that the DWP compares the implementation of ESF in areas where there are a few C0­Financing Organisations with those areas, such as London, where a larger number of CFOs operate and, in consultation with the ODPM, describe how it proposes to improve the co-ordination between CFOs to the benefit of applicants. (Paragraph 57)

3.  We recommend that steps should be taken by the Government to make the EU rules on additionality, and specifically that match-funding need not be additional, more widely understood (Paragraph 64)

4.  We recommend that the DWP investigates the possibility of providing a fast track procedure for relatively small grant applications, such as those under £50,000. We also recommend that the DWP ensures that suitable transitional funding is in place before the end of the current programming period as protection against delays in granting programme and project approval at the start of the next programming period. (Paragraph 68)

5.  We recommend that the Government considers changes in the way in which project approval is considered. We would like to see service providers, possibly in the form of advisory groups, included more in drawing up the plans and specifications if a conflict of interest can be avoided. (Paragraph 75)

6.  We suggest that some direct funding be retained as a safety net for those worthwhile projects that fall between specifications. We therefore recommend that some direct funding be retained in all regions and re-introduced in London. (Paragraph 76)

7.  It is our belief that a detailed statistical analysis of the awarding of grants is needed. We recommend that, in replying to this report, the DWP investigates the concerns expressed by some members of the Community and Voluntary sector that funding under co-financing is being channelled through mainstream programmes at the expense of the C&V sector organisations. We have already recommended that the Government undertakes a comparative study into direct bidding and co-financing. We suggest that that study also investigates whether there are any marked differences under the two systems with respect to the types of projects supported and rejected. (Paragraph 77)

8.  We recommend that the Government guarantees that bids which include support for childcare are not disadvantaged compared with bids that do not budget for such costs (Paragraph 80)

9.  The accuracy of those making claims needs to be tightened up. In view of the high error rate we recommend that the design of the claim form also needs to be drastically improved and streamlined and that the process for settling claims be speeded up, including making greater use of claiming over the internet. (Paragraph 84)

10.  In order to reduce the risk of wide regional variations, we consider that the DWP should press the European Commission for greater clarification on how intense the monitoring regime should be. (Paragraph 85)

11.  We request that an assessment be undertaken into the total administrative costs (both direct and indirect) that organisations face when dealing with ESF. We recommend that the DWP undertakes a value for money study into the use of technical assistance in the delivery of ESF. (Paragraph 89)

12.  We recommend that the Government ensures that all newly approved projects are assessed for their risk and are subject to a monitoring regime that is proportionate to that risk. (Paragraph 90)

13.  We recommend that a fast track service for processing claims be more widely available and that the authorities make clear that, subject to certain conditions, an emergency cash advance could be made available. (Paragraph 91)

14.  We recommend that Objective 3 funding should continue to be widely available . (Paragraph 97)

15.  We recommend that the DWP provides a comparative analysis of any variation in monitoring standards across the UK and reassures us that monitoring of service providers is proportionate to their assessed risk and broadly comparable across the UK and the EU. (Paragraph 101)

16.  We recommend that the Government considers ways in which it can provide more support to potential applicants, before and after formal applications are made. We believe that all rejected applicants should be provided with reasonably full written feedback that identifies clearly the areas in which the tender could be improved. We urge the Government to review the use of the standard pro formas used by Jobcentre Plus when informing applicants that they have been unsuccessful. (Paragraph 103)

17.  We request that the Government explains the reasons for the omission of the social inclusion agenda from the Government's consultation paper. We also recommend that the Government assures us that work on the labour market and countering social exclusion, which is funded by the ESF, will not be lost under the Government's proposals for the post-2006 regime and that proper transitional funding will be in place in good time. (Paragraph 115)

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