Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

3  Evaluation and monitoring arrangements

Evaluation of the Future Jobs Fund

31.  The Department for Work and Pensions intends to carry out an evaluation of the FJF but has yet to confirm the full specification for its evaluation arrangements.[31] The Minister told us that the evaluation would take place next year.[32] DWP also stated that it would be based on "qualitative research, in-house data analysis and collation of lessons learnt from local evaluations".[33] DWP has not, however, indicated the criteria that it will use to measure the effectiveness of the programme. For example, effectiveness might be measured by the number of FJF jobs created, the number of FJF participants, the percentage of young people finding permanent employment, young people's experiences of the programme, savings in benefit payments, or the cost-effectiveness of the programme.

32.  DWP has decided to evaluate the programme in-house, rather than commission an independent evaluation. The Minister explained that this was because: "There is a danger in financially straitened times that we spend vast amounts of money evaluating things that we are no longer going to do."[34]

33.   For a programme that has cost around £1 billion, we would usually expect the Department to include a measure of independence and external assessment within the evaluation. While we accept that this may not be a cost-effective option on this occasion, especially given the fact that there will be no national programme similar to the FJF in the foreseeable future, we are concerned that the evaluation should be comprehensive and available to all interested parties.

34.  We believe that DWP should conduct a robust and comprehensive evaluation of the FJF and publish the findings. We recommend that the evaluation include an analysis of the experiences of local implementation of the programme, an assessment of the impact of the FJF on long-term employment and benefit payments (as recorded in DWP databases) and a detailed cost-benefit analysis. The evaluation method should also be published to ensure the transparency and credibility of the process.

Tracking and monitoring within the programme

35.  Several witnesses suggested that the programme might have been enhanced if there had been a national system for tracking participants once they completed their FJF post. Groundwork UK noted that there was no central monitoring of sustainable employment outcomes for participants and no central system for tracking FJF workers after they left the FJF job.[35] Tony Hawkhead from Groundwork UK made a comparison with the Community Task Force which he believed offered excellent data because it had a tracking record from the start.[36]

36.  The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities noted that, while they were developing local tracking mechanisms, they would have preferred a national system that could share data and track people once they had left the FJF programme.[37] Evidence from the Birmingham and Black Country City Region suggested that, while forms were available in that region to capture the destination of FJF participants, these forms were completed immediately after the young person finished their FJF job. They believed that it would have been more useful to wait three months before monitoring young people's progress.[38] This would take account of the normal delay many people experience between finishing one job and starting another.

37.  Although there appears to have been no national system for tracking individuals once they left the FJF programme, participants will appear in DWP administrative data if they re-enter Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Jobseeker Regime and Flexible New Deal (JRFND). DWP data are also linked to HM Revenue & Customs data allowing employment outcomes to be observed. DWP's early analysis makes use of the information held on FJF participants and JSA claimants to provide data on the programme, although this has arrived too late to help inform the national or local implementation of the programme.[39]

38.  We believe that ongoing assessment of the FJF programme at a local and national level may have been more informative if effective systems had been available to monitor participation and employment outcomes from the outset.

Incentives for employers and providers

39.  DWP's guidance stated that each bid from providers had to demonstrate that "there will be support for employees to move into long-term, sustained employment".[40] However, the programme was relatively light touch in terms of the monitoring and tracking requirements it placed on its providers. Nor were they given clear direction by the Government on supporting FJF participants to find permanent jobs.

40.  The CBI suggested that the Future Jobs Fund did not place sufficient focus on securing sustainable employment opportunities for young people: "For the programme to be a long-term success the jobs funded would have to create sustainable pathways into employment, ensuring that the positions funded left the young person more employable for the long-term as well as providing a short period of employment."[41] Be Birmingham stated that there was a lack of incentives for employers to progress FJF workers into permanent jobs. They proposed the following incentives:

  • a bonus paid to the provider for every FJF employee who obtained permanent employment; or
  • the residual amount of the £6,500 is paid to the FJF provider for every worker who gained employment before the end of their six months. [42]

41.  Julia Sweeney, the DWP director involved in establishing and developing the FJF, explained the reasons why the Department chose a model without contractual incentives:

There was a balance to be struck between allowing the space and capacity for innovation that we thought was very important to harness partnership capability and to provide interesting and dynamic experiences for young people, and using a financial model that would drive outcomes. We settled on a grant mechanism to deliver the former [....] One of the constraints of the grant mechanism is that you cannot put contractual incentive mechanisms into it. We did design a grant mechanism that had very dynamic reporting, so we know each month what's happening with our delivery partners.[43]

42.  The inclusion of incentives might have resulted in increased costs for the programme and a lack of flexibility for providers. However, it is worth noting that the Government's proposals for the new Work Programme will include such incentives and be based on "payment by results", with providers being required to support individuals to complete up to two years of paid work before they receive full payment from the Government.

31   Ev 51 Back

32   Q 105 Back

33   Ev 49 Back

34   Ev 51 Back

35   Ev 58 Back

36   Q 19  Back

37   Ev w219 Back

38   Ev w135 Back

39   Department for Work and Pensions, Early analysis of Future Jobs Fund participant outcomes, November 2010 Back

40   Department for Work and Pensions, Guide to the Future Jobs Fund, 2009, p 2 Back

41   Ev 46 Back

42   Ev 42 Back

43   Q 109 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 21 December 2010