Supplementary memorandum submitted by
Reed in Partnership after the publication of the Welfare Reform
Reed in Partnership welcomes the opportunity
to provide further evidence to the committee following the publication
of the Welfare Reform green paper.
In our original submission we highlighted a
number of points that we believe are important and explained our
rationale for this view in far greater detail.
The points highlighted were:
Pathways to Work remains unproven
as a best value solution for assisting the flow of new IB recipients
back into employment.
The Pathways to Work approach
could be part of a package of solutions capable of assisting IB
clients from within the stock of longer term IB recipients.
There is no "benefit"
to being incapacitated and we welcome any approach that changes
the name of the allowance to something that focuses recipients
upon getting better and back to work. We believe that greater
numbers have the potential to fulfil productive lives than either
the current system or indeed potentially the future system anticipates.
The independent sector (both
private and voluntary) has not been sufficiently engaged in the
pilots resulting in inadequate testing of best value and innovation
relative to assisting the client group.
Given current financial limitations
we do not believe that Pathways to Work should be rolled out nationally;
and that a Pathways focused on sections of the stock of IB clients
should remain focused on the 30 Districts with the highest levels
of IB claimant.
Solutions based around the Action
Team model can deliver significant outcomes for IB clients at
a cost significantly lower than the Pathways to Work model.
At this moment in time the points made and our
rationale for making them remain valid. However the green paper
sets out a number of recommendations that if fulfilled will address
a number of the points we raised. Equally, however, the method
in which they are implemented could potentially have a negative
effect on the type of service provided to potential Pathways to
In this further evidence we wish to draw attention
to a number of points that we believe require close scrutiny moving
forward if the reforms are to prove effective.
We should stress, however, that in broad terms
we welcome much of the content within the green paper and in particular
the government's desire to achieve an employment rate equivalent
to 80% through:
Reducing by one million the
number on incapacity benefits;
Helping 300,000 lone parents
into work; and
Increasing by one million the
number of older workers.
As per our original submission we remain convinced
that Pathways to Work, in its current format, remains unproven
as a best value solution for assisting the flow of new IB recipients
back into employment. However we also remain convinced that the
approach, particularly that relating to Condition Management Programmes,
would ensure that within the stock of IB claimants those who have
been on the benefit for over two years do not end up in a position
where they are more likely to die or retire than find a new job,
as is currently the case highlighted within the green paper.
We are delighted that the green paper affirms
our view that the name Incapacity Benefit should be changed and
we applaud the decision to introduce the new Employment and Support
The green paper highlights a number of points
that reinforce our view that the private and voluntary sectors
should be far more involved in the delivery of best value, innovative
solutions that will meet the needs of potential Pathways to Work
In particular we welcome the points within the
green paper that indicate.
"Future Pathways to Work
provision will be delivered primarily by the private and voluntary
sector with payment on results."
"At the same time, we have
brought in private and voluntary sector providers. In Employment
Zones, providers are paid not according to what they do, but according
to what they achieve. By giving them greater freedom, they have
improved performanceindependent evaluation shows that they
achieve significantly better job outcomes than Jobcentre Plus
does with comparable clients."
"In the next stage of reform
we will need to engage private and voluntary sector providers.
We will invite bids for outcome-based contracts as we roll out
Pathways to Work nationally."
In our original submission we indicated that
given current financial limitations we do not believe that Pathways
to Work should be rolled out nationally; and that a Pathways focused
on sections of the stock of IB clients should remain focused on
the 30 Districts with the highest levels of IB claimant.
Although the green paper highlights numbers
on Incapacity Benefit as a national problem and emphasising that
there are at least 150,000 claimants in every region, and more
in the South East then the North East, it does not emphasise these
numbers as a proportion of the overall working age population,
which would highlight a far greater problem proportionally in
the North East.
Our concern about a national roll out was based
on any proposals for such a roll out being based on delivering
exactly to the specifications developed within the initial pilots,
and if this was to remain the case we would still be opposed to
a national roll out. If the programme was to be rolled out on
that basis then we are clear that private and voluntary sector
providers could deliver more cost effective outcomes for IB claimants
from within an Action Team or other area based outreach approach
than would be the case from a Pathways to Work proposition.
If it is the case that any roll out will be
genuinely outcome based and that it adopts the same approach to
greater freedom as has been the case within Employment Zones then
a national roll out would be welcomed by us.
However, if any procurement process attempts
to tie potential providers to the processes and activities used
within the pilot then we would be concerned that creativity, enhanced
performance and value for money would be compromised.
As a leading provider of Employment Zones and
Action Teams across the UK we welcome the recognition that our
and others' programmes have received within the green paper.
In addition to the point highlighted above relative
to Employment Zones we note that the green paper also emphasises
the Action Team approach.
"Twenty-four Action Team
for Jobs have helped jobless people in the most employmentdeprived
areas of the country find and remain in work. They work on an
outreach basis and have flexibility to provide whatever support
is thought necessary to help people move into work; for example,
they might provide debt counselling, work clothes, or help with
We are emphasising these points to stress the
importance of a flexible outcome based approach to meet the needs
of current Incapacity Benefit, and other benefit claimants as
we work towards achieving the 80% employment rate.
In our view there are two other key points that
have to be managed carefully if we are to ensure the success of
Firstly, the green paper notes that "voluntary
and private sector organisations, with their distinctive understanding
of the social and economic environment in a local area, will be
key contributors to making a success of this initiative".
Whilst we agree that both voluntary and private
sector providers both work closely with other organisations to
maximise the synergies for their clients and in most cases, particularly
amongst the private sector providers, have a good knowledge of
the needs of employers within a local area. We would be concerned
if the implementation of the reforms prevented the entry of new
providers into a geographical area. Knowledge of the local area
whilst important in delivering a good service for clients is not
the fundamental building block. Potential service participants
in Glasgow are likely to have the same barriers to employment
as those in Liverpool and the ability of organisations to address
the issues experienced by individuals and ultimately match them
to potential employers are the key factors in delivering successful
outcomes. Reed in Partnership has in a number of locations across
the UK taken over failing provision from local providers in an
area where we have had no previous presence and turned the programmes
around in very short timescales by our focus on the needs of the
individual and employers. Whoever is responsible for building
the partnerships suggested in the green paper and for the procurement
of solutions must therefore, in our view, ensure that the services
are being delivered by the best possible provider not simply the
providers who currently operate in a particular locality.
Secondly we note that the green paper puts great
emphasis on the role of Cities, and that "the resources flowing
into cities would have more impact if we could get local agencies
working together more closely" and that the paper goes on
to outline an approach involving local consortiums who would "be
expected to make use of private and voluntary sector providers
to deliver additional employment support".
We applaud the efforts to maximise synergies
at this level, however wish to note a word of caution about who
the decision makers are in this process. We would be concerned
if political influence at the local level resulted in little or
no attempts being made to engage with the private sector or if
local influencers were able to make decisions on who was awarded
the contracts based on their existing relationships within a City.
We are keen that in the development of these proposals guidance
is provided to consortium on the minimum level of delivery that
must be assigned to the private and voluntary sectors and that
a clear and transparent process of procurement and evaluation
remains at the heart of process.
With these simple steps addressed we are confident
that the changes proposed will not result in best practise experience
being lost to potential clients and that the reforms will lead
to a successful result for individuals and the UK economy.
As indicated within our original submission,
if we can further assist the Committee with their inquiry we would
welcome the opportunity to give oral evidence.