Retention and progression
55. The Green Paper rightly emphasises the fact that
finding employment is just the first hurdle for some people: sustaining
a job is the next and often most crucial challenge. It explains
that a guiding principle of welfare reform will be:
"retention and progression, not just job
entry: the system must do more to help people stay in work
and move up the ladder through better in-work support - through
advice, financial incentives and training."
56. In our report on the Government's Employment
Strategy we examined the extent to which the UK's current welfare-to-work
strategy focuses on retention:
"Jobcentre Plus focuses on placing people into
jobs. However, it is our view that not enough attention is being
paid either to ensuring that those jobs offer reasonable prospects,
or to helping people remain in those jobs in the long term. In
particular, the absence of targets for sustained job placements
in Jobcentre Plus provision, and the definition of a sustained
job placement as one lasting 13 weeks in contracted out provision,
need to be re-examined."
57. We reiterate this recommendation, particularly
in light of the fact that whilst the Green Paper states the importance
of retention and progression it does not give any indication of
how Jobcentre Plus and contractors will be encouraged to support
customers into sustained work. Given the absence of any proposals
in this area, we were particularly alarmed that the Government
is not consulting about retention and progression in the Green
Paper. We asked the Minister about this, who told us:
"we should maybe have had a question in there
on that [
] we are thinking about [
] the contract side.
What outcomes do we want in terms of the contracts which will
be developed? Part of the outcomes we want are not just job entry
but where we should be in terms of retention for those people
who go into jobs and how we do actually provide the framework
to incentivise that but also assess that and get value for money.
Those are some of the areas we are exploring as well as markers
which might be appropriate to show our success rate for people
staying on in work. We have more of a focus on that area now."
welcome a focus on retention and progression in the Government's
welfare-to-work policy but there is little evidence that the DWP
has considered in any detail how this will be reflected in providers'
contracts or in the type of support available on employment programmes.
There are no consultation questions in the Green Paper on this
issue and we believe that the Government has missed a key opportunity
to canvass the views of experts and stakeholders.