Work and Pensions Committee - Minutes of Evidencehc 162

Back to Report

Oral Evidence

Taken before the Work and Pensions Committee

on Wednesday 13 March 2013

Members present:

Dame Anne Begg (Chair)

Debbie Abrahams

Mr Aidan Burley

Jane Ellison

Graham Evans

Sheila Gilmore

Glenda Jackson

Stephen Lloyd

Nigel Mills

Anne Marie Morris

Teresa Pearce


Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Susan ScottParker OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Business Disability Forum, Charles Gray, Group Sales and Marketing Director, de Poel, Gouy HamiltonFisher, Head of People Support, Timpson, and Andrea Fozard, Supplier Skills Project Manager, and Mike Lycett, Head of Commercial Centre for Excellence, Transport for London, gave evidence.

Q389 Chair: Can I welcome you here this morning? Thanks very much for coming. We are very keen to speak to employers about their experience of the Work Programme, because employers are crucial to making the whole thing work. If I can begin with you, Mike, can I ask you to introduce yourself for the record?

Mike Lycett: I am Mike Lycett. I work for Transport for London (TfL) in the Commercial Team and head up the supplier skills team responsible for our particular programme.

Andrea Fozard: My name is Andrea Fozard. I am the Supplier Skills Project Manager for TfL. I have daytoday responsibility for overseeing the work we do through that programme, which includes our partnership with the primes around the Work Programme.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I am Gouy HamiltonFisher from Timpson. I am responsible for people support, which includes recruitment.

Susan Scott-Parker: I am Susan ScottParker, founding Chief Executive of the Business Disability Forum. Our job is to make it easier for employers to say yes.

Charles Gray: Good morning. I am Charles Gray. I am a Director with de Poel, and I have also been involved in the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) PaceSetter programme and a board member for HMRC.

Q390 Chair: You are all very welcome, and thank you very much for coming before us this morning. I have a very straightforward question to begin. Do you believe that the Work Programme’s objective of bringing people who are furthest from the labour market into sustained employment can be achieved in the current economic climate?

Mike Lycett: From a Transport for London perspective, some success has been gained and can be gained. One of the factors that is important for us, though, is that we have rising demand for our transport services, and we had a work programme that was fairly well laid out and set out, so we had a degree of security about future work and the need for skills and jobs. So, from our perspective, yes it can, but the key is the future work that has helped this programme.

Q391 Chair: Is it more difficult, though, in this economic climate?

Mike Lycett: I suspect it might be for other organisations, but we have been somewhat protected because of the nature of London and the demand for transport from bits of the economy that others may not be experiencing.

Q392 Chair: Charles, you are a recruitment agency, so you must have a wider perspective.

Charles Gray: The current economic climate is a big excuse. If you have the will and the intent, together with the knowledge of how to do it-a lot of employers do not know how and the service providers are not providing them with the education, the direction and the knowledge. Especially in this current economic climate, there are a lot of skilled, knowledgeable and capable disabled people out there who can help companies out of their current economic problems, so it should be an asset and a benefit, not a hindrance.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I agree in part with that. Certainly, we at Timpson do not have a problem getting people, but those we have had through the Work Programme have been very poor, and indeed Jobcentre Plus (JCP) were superb in their offer to come and work within one of our branches, just to try to better direct the right candidates to us. We do not have a shortage of candidates, but we are very willing to look at longterm unemployed. That has been evidenced by our work with the prisons and the Timpson Foundation. Our big disappointment is, of the 12 people that have been sent to us, only one has survived, and that is because the other 11 could not get up.

Q393 Chair: What has gone wrong, then?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I was quite surprised once to be chased by one of the providers for a colleague who had come of his own volition to look for work, but whose name was on their books. That told me that that particular provider was not really looking for the best interests of that longterm unemployed person, but just to collect the money. We were quite disappointed at that.

Q394 Chair: Are you saying that the provider is not doing a proper analysis or putting in the proper support to make sure they are matching the correct people to the correct jobs?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Yes.

Q395 Chair: They are cutting off their nose to spite their face, then, surely.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Yes. I would say what you have just said is absolutely correct and, as I say, that was highlighted to us when the excellent manager at the particular Jobcentre Plus that we were dealing with offered, without our suggestion, to come and work in one of our branches to get a better idea of what we were about.

Q396 Mr Burley: I am intrigued by your phrase: you had 12 candidates but 11 "could not get up". Could you just explain to the Committee what you mean by that?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: We could not continue to employ them or give them any work experience because they either did not arrive for work, or we had to chase them to find out where they were. They came poorly prepared, in my view. The one person that did quite clearly had excellent initiative, and I wish we had found him earlier.

Susan Scott-Parker: Can I add to that? I think this experience is very common. It is possible to get significantly more longterm unemployed and disabled people into jobs, but the problem you have just heard is that the service providers do not match the need of the employer to the need of the individual. They do not start by saying, "What would make it easier for Timpson to recruit these individuals? What kind of jobs? Do they do prescreening? Do they prepare the individual for the reality of working inside this organisation, or any other?" One of the reasons we were so delighted to be here this morning is the premise that the employer is the most important user of the Work Programme. Yet when you look at most of the conversations about the Work Programme users, they are focused on the individual. The employer is the essential user, because if the employer says no to those 11, all the investment in pushing these 11 randomly towards the employer is wasted.

Q397 Chair: For the contractors, is it just a numbers game, rather than providing a highquality service for the jobseeker?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Unfortunately, that is our perception. It is difficult to encourage my team in HR to see otherwise at the moment.

Q398 Chair: Transport for London, you seem to have been a bit more successful. Have you got the same experience?

Andrea Fozard: It is interesting to hear the feedback from the other employers. We have worked in the area for some time, working with the Jobcentre and other groups to ensure that some of London’s hardesttohelp are able to access opportunities. When we became aware of the Work Programme, we knew it was something we wanted and needed to engage with, and we sat down very early on with all six of the primes that were delivering the programme in London over at City Hall to talk about what we could do. We talked to them at that stage, as Mike referred to, with our demand planning, so with sight of the numbers and types of vacancies that were coming up over the next 12 months, 18 months, three years and so on, to give them a bit of scope around the opportunities that we had. We also talked to them about what our expectations would be as an employer and as a leading client introducing them to our supply chain. It was very clear from the start that we had to be very clear around what we expected from the primes and also what the primes needed from us as an employer. We have seen it very much as a longerterm partnership and collaboration with the primes. We did not expect that, overnight, it would be a very easy, simple process and we would just get thousands of longterm unemployed back into work. However, we were committed to supporting the programme, so we agreed to a memorandum of understanding, which has underpinned our partnership over the past 12 months. That has been fundamental to a lot of the successes. We also have faced challenges through that time. What we think has worked, though, is the idea that the six primes came together collectively and funded a position within the team. Within our team, we have a dedicated workplace co-ordinator who acts as a broker between the opportunities that come up through our supply chain and the primes referring the candidates.

Q399 Chair: That broker makes all the difference; brokerage always seems to have been very successful in any previous welfaretowork scheme.

Andrea Fozard: Absolutely.

Q400 Stephen Lloyd: But in a sense, Chair, what TfL has done is exactly what Susan was talking about. As the employers, you have really taken charge and taken control and made sure that your needs and your requirements not only are met but the groups that you are working with-Jobcentre Plus and the primes-are coordinated through that.

Andrea Fozard: Absolutely. We have had, I would say, a good experience in London with the intent from those primes. There has been that commitment right from the start to collaborating. From my perspective, they meet sixweekly to talk about a range of activities across a range of industries. I am invited to that sixweekly meeting to make sure that we continue to have an input in that and are able to combine with any other activities or plans that they have around other parts of London.

Q401 Debbie Abrahams: Is this fairly common?

Andrea Fozard: No.

Q402 Debbie Abrahams: So it is rather a unique position. I think it is an excellent position, by the way. What sort of numbers do you deal with on an annual basis?

Andrea Fozard: We have just finished our yearone pilot, so the numbers that I will present today are based on that. In the first year, we got 112 longterm unemployed people back into work within the supply chain. We are in a fortunate position as well where we can provide some information around jobs sustained. That is obviously important for the Department, but also critical for ourselves. One of the reasons we got involved in this is that we have a wealth of opportunities, and we want to make sure that Londoners-disadvantaged Londoners in particular-are able to access them; however, we would like them to stay in work, because that is what provides us with a solid workforce. From the data that we have, we now know that after three months of those candidates going into work, 87% are sustained; after 6 months, 77% are sustained; and after 12 months, 67% are sustained.

Q403 Debbie Abrahams: That is really good. Because of the high volume of people coming through, that is the way that funding the coordinators really works for you.

Andrea Fozard: Absolutely. We sat down at the end of year one with the primes collectively, and looked at whether we continue with this. They said, "Absolutely, yes, we would like to." Will they continue funding the posts? Again, yes, absolutely they will. We have set ourselves even more stretching targets for what we hope to achieve in year two.

Debbie Abrahams: It seems a really good model, Chair, doesn’t it?

Chair: It shows what can be done, yes.

Q404 Glenda Jackson: Mr HamiltonFisher, can we go back to the 12 and the 11 who did not get up in the morning? Had they actually had job starts, or were they simply put to you as potential? There is an imbalance in what you are saying, because the programme only delivers for the providers on the results. They were not getting results, so why were they wasting everybody’s time? Are you in a position to hazard a guess?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I am not, to be fair. My impression was that certainly eight of those people had not had any preparation whatsoever; they had just been sent to us. We do quite a bit of work with the prisons, so we have got a programme of training people, giving them work experience and then assessment upon assessment, so we can make sure they do stick to us. There is nothing familiar about those who are sent to us from either Ingeus or A4e.

Q405 Stephen Lloyd: That must be incredibly frustrating for you.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: It is, because it is a fabulous opportunity.

Q406 Stephen Lloyd: It must be demoralising for your own staff as well.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Yes. Particularly because of what we have done off our own back with the prisons, we thought this would be a golden opportunity. We have got 90 new branches opening this year just with one supermarket alone. We are expanding and we are on record year profits, so there is every opportunity to continue to employ people.

Chair: But they need to match them up.

Q407 Nigel Mills: It seems like the Work Programme is not working wonderfully well in all situations for people who are furthest from the labour market. In June, we will see the first cohort who have gone through their two years on the Work Programme leave it, sadly for many, without having found a sustained job. Do you think there is a role for employers in trying to do something with those presumably very hardesttoreach groups?

Susan Scott-Parker: Employers play a crucial role because they have the jobs. From our experience, if the wellintentioned employer finds it difficult to attract suitable candidates at the right time for the right vacancies-the ones, say, in our membership who want to do this right, or like Timpson-then for the rest, it is not going to work at all. The challenge is that the system seems to be fragmented and unco-ordinated in terms of how it enables the individual to move stepbystep to the right employer for the right vacancy at the right time. The programmes that we have seen work best-and it is not a million miles from what TfL have done-are where the employer says, "I have vacancies coming up in the next year that look like this. Will you have candidates that could match those vacancies? I want you to come in and spend time on site to get to know my business and how we recruit, and help to audit my policies and procedures. If I am using panels for interview and you have an individual with Asperger’s who is likely to do badly at the panel, help me to get rid of the panel and find a worktrial approach that makes it easier for them to prove what they can do." The system at the moment is not funded to meet the needs of the employer in this way.

We are focused on people with disabilities in particular, and I am concerned that if the Work Programme is failing longterm unemployed, imagine how difficult it is for the employer to pull disabled longterm unemployed people through that process. When we sat down with the National Autistic Society, they brought us 50 CVs, so that we could see the talent and the qualifications and what they were interested in, and then we brought a group of companies together that we knew in the next year or two were likely to have jobs to match. We brought the individuals in to meet the companies to get an understanding of what was getting in the way: why we were struggling to attract good candidates and why the candidates did not go to these companies. We learned that the job interview disadvantaged many of these individuals, and so the members agreed to do work trials. We have had hundreds of people with Asperger’s find work as a result of bringing the demand from the employer together with the supply of candidates in a structured and systematic way, but somehow the funding regime does not encourage these providers to collaborate.

My final story would be: if a member rings a local agency and says, "I am interested in filling an accountant’s job. If you have got a disabled accountant, I would be interested in looking at this," they will say no. They do not ring round every other agency to find a disabled accountant so that this company can recruit, because the funding does not reward them for getting someone in from another provider. Similarly, they do not put an ad in the newspaper to say, "We have got companies looking for disabled individuals with the following skills. Come to us and we will match you to the right employer." They just push candidates almost randomly, in our experience, at the employer and hope that a few stick.

Q408 Glenda Jackson: How many employers would you say have this approach to employing people with disabilities? It clearly is not every employer in the country.

Susan Scott-Parker: No, clearly.

Q409 Glenda Jackson: How do we patch into this group?

Susan Scott-Parker: If you are talking about employers in general, the point is that the agencies do not set out to make it easy for employer X to do this. They do not approach the employers and say, "We have got candidates coming through that seem to match the vacancies you are looking for. We can help you to get Access to Work funding, if there is any need. We can audit your policies. We can do all these things for you." There is no offer to the employer who is not aware that would intrigue them and make them think that it would be businesssensible to do it this way, because you want people who are good to come through. The approach is simply, "Employers need to do better," and then, when they do get interested, they cannot find the candidates.

Q410 Chair: Is Work Choice involved in any of this? Do you recruit through Work Choice at all, or encourage your employers to recruit through Work Choice?

Susan Scott-Parker: Of course some employers do, but, again, it is a twoyearlong programme, and it is not geared to start with, "What do employers need in this patch and how do we get these individuals to that employer?" Our members have very productive partnerships with Remploy and so I get quarterly updates on how many individuals are coming into our partner companies from Remploy. Remploy has structured a partnership with Royal Mail that has almost 2,000 people coming through, because it starts by saying, "How does a manager in Remploy fill vacancies up? This is the process they go through. How can we make it easier for them to give Remploy first shot at filling that vacancy? How do we minimise the risk for the employer?" It is a carefully thoughtthrough process.

Charles Gray: It really comes down to treating the employers like customers. Like every good customer, you do not tell them what they should do or how they should fill their requirements; you have to make a proposal that is attractive to them and make it easy for them to buy. They have got enough pressure right now. Too many of the service providers are just pushing out candidates and they are not entering into a discussion with the employers. Treat them like a customer. The phrase that was used earlier was "supply chain". Treat it like a supply chain that starts with the customer and works its way back. Do any of you who go out and buy anything today have to work very hard at it? No; the most successful companies make it easy for you to buy, by meeting your needs quickly and accurately. We are not doing that. We are not listening to them; we are not talking to them; and we are not supporting them. What we are doing is pushing candidates.

Q411 Stephen Lloyd: When you are, like TfL and others, you get a really good result.

Charles Gray: Exactly.

Andrea Fozard: I think it is worth saying the year has not been without its challenges. We have faced what has been spoken about today on the panel. We have had large volumes of candidates thrown at positions that do not match the very basic criteria. We have had candidates not prepared for assessments and interviews. But our commitment as an organisation was to work with the primes to address this. We are not going to see a total culture shift overnight, and we are aware of that, but by being able to have difficult conversations with our suppliers, as well as the primes, around managing expectations on both sides, over the course of the year, we have seen the numbers increase.

Q412 Graham Evans: I would like to say thank you to Charles; you are exactly right. In my constituency, there is the Petty Pool Centre, where severely disabled young people go and are educated to a very high standard. For me, the difference is that they work with the local employers in catering and janitorial positions. These disabled people-severely disabled mentally-are able to get jobs. If organisations can work with clients as you have described there for disabled people, surely it is not beyond service providers to do the same.

Charles Gray: Can I just raise one point on that? As an employer, you really do not care if the person is seven feet tall or four feet tall. If they can do the job and help them with a competitive advantage and they show up on a regular basis and they are supported, you will go out of your way to keep a good employee.

Q413 Teresa Pearce: Obviously, TfL has had success here, but you have had success because you have a number of filters before the person arrives, and you are an employer with quite a sizeable HR function. For smaller employers who do not really have that within that organisation, it will be quite a challenge, because you have had to do an awful lot to get a very successful outcome. Do you think only large employers with a sizeable HR function could get the results you get?

Andrea Fozard: You are absolutely right; a considerable amount of resource has gone in from TfL as an organisation to support this and to embed it and get it up and running. However, we have seen our handson time decline, as the programme has become more secure and positioned. You are quite right; from a large organisation’s perspective, we have been able to put that resource in. That is why I talk about the longerterm partnership and collaboration. I think there is absolutely activity that needs to take place from the primes’ perspective for how they work with employers. It would be very difficult for a small employer. You would go to the primes in the first instance; maybe get 25 CVs come through; they would not be the right candidates; and you would disengage. There is definitely a piece of work-and I know that the CBI are doing a lot of work around this-to try to build that partnership between employers of all sizes and the primes.

Yes, our size has helped us. However, what we are really committed to doing over the next 12 months is also sharing some lessons learned. Whether you are an SME1 or a national organisation, you need to approach the partnership in a transparent and honest manner in order to build a relationship. If I am an SME and I need someone to come and work with me on Monday, I would rather have a relationship with a prime that could tell me, "I am very sorry, but we do not have anyone at the moment to meet those needs. However, let’s start that conversation so that next time we do have those candidates." There is definitely work that needs to be done on both sides, by employers and the primes, around this.

Q414 Glenda Jackson: Andrea, and again coming back to you, Gouy, when the primes sent you candidates who could in no way fill the potential job, did they give you any reason? When you say to them, "Why did you send me these people?" what do they say? Or do they not say anything?

Andrea Fozard: There have been frustrations throughout the year. In some ways, we are fortunate because we work with all six primes in London, so we see variable results, if I am being frank. There are a couple of primes in particular that we have had an absolutely impeccable service from; you could not really ask for more.

Q415 Glenda Jackson: What is that impeccable service?

Andrea Fozard: What we do is make sure that, when we work with the primes, we are very clear. We engage with our suppliers. We find out exactly what their roles are, what their company culture is and any competencies they need. We will then organise a meeting with the primes; a representative from each of the primes will come to a meeting with our supplier to hear about the roles. Everyone is very clear that is the opportunity to ask any further questions, etc. The workplace coordinator-the funded position-will then do that matching. Some primes go along; they listen; they take notes; and they fulfil the specification that we ask them to. Others, on occasion, appear to totally ignore it, as though they were not in the room. You are right; that is hugely frustrating. There has been an occasion with one particular supplier where they have said, "I am not working with the primes anymore. I am not having it, because I am just sick of this." We then worked with them and worked with the primes to mitigate what had happened, and we have worked through it.

One of the things we track is the number of candidates that have been referred to us against the number of vacancies and the number of jobs. For example, over the year, we have had 567 Work Programme candidates referred to us, of which 112 have gone into work, so fourtoone for every job, which is not a terrible stat. We found that earlier in the programme, that was a lot higher; we were getting 20 or so people that were not meeting-and our approach was very much, "If you cannot meet the specification, you will not be able to submit." It was almost a "three strikes and you’re out" approach. We said, "If there are any questions, come back to us." Over time, we have seen that greatly reduce. It still happens, but it is an exception rather than a rule.

Q416 Chair: You have been able to deal with that because you have worked very hard with the primes. Is there potentially a problem in the mandated work activity that claimants have to do? In other words, if you are JSA claimant, you have to apply for X number of jobs in a timescale, or you have to send your CV in to X number of employers. Is that maybe why you are getting inappropriate applications? Is that something you would recognise? There is a nodding of heads.

Susan Scott-Parker: That must be true. Listening to TfL’s experience, try to imagine how much energy what we are hearing there really takes from an employer. You have to really want this. The word "partner" is an interesting word. These providers tend to regard the employer as the problem or the target. My instinct is the word "customer", as Charles mentioned, is really important. You cannot work in partnership with people you do not value even as customers and users of the services that you offer. We are trying to encourage these providers to see the employer as an important customer, which means we have to do some basics. For example, we will pre-screen candidates for you, not just throw them at random. We will spend time on site and get to know your business, etc. Partnership is the next stage after that, where you say to the employer, "I have got some candidates coming through. They are not quite jobready. Would you be prepared to give them two or three months, so that they get a sense of what this is about?" We will support the manager while that is happening, but we are honest with them: "This person is not yet ready for that job offer". That is partnership for me. TfL have really moved into that quite quickly, by the sound of it. My plea is: try to find a funding system that requires the providers to demonstrate they meet the basic needs of the employer as customer. I think that would have a huge impact throughout the system.

Q417 Chair: At the moment the incentive means the more CVs, the better, rather than the appropriate CVs.

Susan Scott-Parker: Absolutely. We have never seen a main provider come in to learn how to help a disabled person get through an employer process. If you are helping the individual, you need to be employer-expert. You need to say to the individual, "The employer is going to look at you and think, ‘He is going to cost too much’ or ‘He is going to be too hard.’ You might have to navigate inaccessible online recruitment, and we are going to help you with that," because they understand the hurdles the employer is going to put in front of any applicant. The process that TfL has described is, in effect, a first shot, is it not? You have given first shot at certain vacancies to a pool of candidates from the Work Programme. Most employers will simply expect the individual to compete with other candidates for the job. That means that the employer has to find it even easier, if you like, to recruit that person, because everybody else looks as though they are less risky.

Andrea Fozard: With our suppliers as well, the jobs are open to others, so this is an addon to their recruitment process. The Work Programme candidates are effectively competing against others that are not on the Work Programme, but the idea is that we work with them to get them up to the same level, so they can compete on a fair level. One of the things you mentioned, Susan, was around the drivers that move this behaviour around sending a multitude of CVs. From working with the six primes, effectively they are recruitment agencies, and my understanding is that the advisers on the front level have targets, so they have a number of CVs they need to send. There is definitely a culture within the organisations themselves to be able to find a way to remove that pressure, so that in the longerterm, they are providing a better-quality service and there is not an adviser at the end of the month needing to hit a target to keep their own job.

Q418 Graham Evans: Can you name the organisations you are referring to?

Andrea Fozard: I would really need to go back to refer to my notes, rather than throwing a prime’s name out now. Because we have worked with them over 12 months, I would be hesitant to name and shame, so to speak. It is something we have worked with them to address, but it is just a culture. I worked in recruitment myself many, many years ago, and it is a culture that exists in that environment. It is targetdriven.

Q419 Stephen Lloyd: One of the challenges of the Work Programme is that each adviser has a caseload of between 80 and 120 clients.

Can I move on to Access to Work? That is a crucial area that I know Susan knows well. I have got a couple of direct questions for you, Susan. In your experience, do you feel Work Programme providers are sufficiently aware of the Access to Work programme?

Susan Scott-Parker: No.

Stephen Lloyd: I agree.

Susan Scott-Parker: That was an easy one.

Q420 Stephen Lloyd: The next thing on that is that, as I know you know, the DWP does not allow Work Programme providers to access Access to Work, because they see it as a dual subsidy. Do you think that is a sensible approach from the DWP?

Susan Scott-Parker: No. We need to come back to the purpose of Access to Work. It has two main ones. Many employers naturally assume hiring people with disabilities is too expensive. It just sounds like it. Quickly you can say, "Actually, that is not true. Access to Work is there." Most employers then just move on. Very few people with disabilities need Access to Work in order to work, but it is a hugely important message in marketing terms to the employer that if you do employ someone who does cost more, it is there, and if you need an assessment to determine what adjustments the person needs, the Government will pay for it.

The second purpose is to enable the employer to make the adjustments the individual needs. Even though the funding goes to the person, the employer and the person are in this together, so the providers, if they are going to help employers hire more disabled people, need to know how to deploy Access to Work-the assessment process and the funding-in such a way that the employer can just say, "Oh, this is easy. Let’s do it." I do not much care if the providers get the money directly or if they simply act as the expert advisers that help the employers to cover the costs, the way the money goes into the individual and the adjustment cost, but the providers have to be able to say to the employer, "Access to Work is there. That is what it is going to do it for you. This individual does or does not need it. I am going to help you with the red tape."

Q421 Stephen Lloyd: Would the others of you agree with Susan? In either your own experience or the experience of other companies in your sector, is there much knowledge of Access to Work?

Andrea Fozard: From our perspective, when we looked at the end of the first year, we tried to drill down a little bit further into some of our numbers to see who the people were that were getting the opportunities with us. We have made a commitment with the primes that we want to do more around this; we want to see more disabled candidates coming through. TfL as an employer embraces all types of people and positively encourages working to get more disabled people into the workforce. When we looked at the end of the year, we were happy with many things; however, we are seeing year two as an opportunity to really drive that forward.

Susan Scott-Parker: How many disabled people did you get?

Andrea Fozard: At the moment, where we struggle with our data is that, while we get numbers, we do not have the ability to say, "We have this many disabled people, and this many women." We have agreed that in year two what we shall be doing is, on the assessment days we have with each of the employers, asking all candidates referred to fill in a form that will provide that detail for us, which we can then track. At the end of year 2, we will be able to come back and say, "These are the numbers in these different groups".

Q422 Stephen Lloyd: That is absolutely crucial, because without benchmarking it is very difficult. What about yourself, Gouy? I know Timpson is very much focused on the prison side, which is highly admirable. Within that, does your organisation have much knowledge of Access to Work?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: No, not really. I have no evidence that would help me provide a suitable answer on it, to be fair.

Q423 Stephen Lloyd: That is fine. That tells me what I need to know. Susan, as you know, on the back of Liz Sayce’s review, the Government included an additional £15 million in the current Spending Review to strengthen and improve Access to Work. We can probably safely say you think it is a good idea, but are you seeing any improvement in that on the ground?

Susan Scott-Parker: The investment in Remploy offering an Access to Work service to people with mental health conditions is hugely important. That is a group that I fear all too often is lost in the Work Programme debate here. Many other programme providers do not really regard them as having disabilities; they are not expert as providers in how to advise employers on how to adjust for these individuals. That is certainly an improvement. The recommendation that the employer contribution is waived will make it easier for the programme to focus its efforts on streamlining the service and enabling more people to access it. The biggest problem we have is the assumption that the frontline providers should not be the experts, in effect. We would want every jobseeker with a disability to be told very soon into their process that Access to Work is there and might help them. Instead, the assumption is that somehow we target communication at the small business community, where you might see one or two disabled applicants in a year. These guys are not going to remember that Access to Work is there. But every Jobcentre Plus adviser and every prime adviser should all know about Access to Work, because if the individual meets the employer primed with that information-"I know that I qualify for Access to Work and this is what it is going to make it possible for us"-then it is again easier for the employer to say yes.

Q424 Stephen Lloyd: That has halfanswered my next question, but let me ask it anyway so that you can add anything else to it. What do you believe an effective welfaretowork programme should do to link up employers with disabled jobseekers? We have talked about Access to Work and having common knowledge of that at Jobcentre Plus and among the primes. We have also talked about the employers and having them as customers right in the middle of it. Is there anything else you would like to add to the Committee now?

Susan Scott-Parker: If the contractors were required to understand how employers adjust for applicants and to understand the processes employers use to attract candidates and assess them, they could help the employer to remove obstacles that are disabilityspecific and help the individuals to navigate the process. But that would require the contractors to be compelled or incentivised by funding in some way to start conversations with employers, individually and perhaps in small groups, to say, "What vacancies are coming up? What are you looking for?" and to spend time with those employers really understanding that. That alone would have a huge impact, but they are not funded to do anything remotely like that.

Stephen Lloyd: Or incentivised, or what have you.

Susan Scott-Parker: Indeed. Or threatened, or whatever it takes.

Q425 Stephen Lloyd: I have one final Access to Work question. I will give you a sneak preview, Susan. A year or so ago, when Chris Grayling was Minister for Employment, I said to him around Access to Work that there are additional costs for some disabilities, and if prime providers, or Work Programme providers, are not allowed to access Access to Work, frankly, they are not going to pay the additional cost, because it will not do their business model any good. The Minister’s answer was, "Stephen, I understand what you say, but we cannot subsidise twice." What would you have said to the Minister if you had been in my position?

Susan Scott-Parker: "Access to Work is meant to be funding that goes to a person that enables them to cover the costs of the assessment and any adjustments that are unreasonable and extra, so Minister, if the money is going to the person, it goes once. Where is the double funding?"

Stephen Lloyd: I will put that to the new Minister for Employment when I see him next week. Thank you.

Q426 Chair: Susan, is your organisation a membership organisation? If any MPs find a small business that would quite like to employ disabled people but is quite frightened of the prospect, would we be able to refer them to you for the kind of help that you have been explaining this morning with your member companies?

Susan Scott-Parker: I wish I could say yes, but we are funded entirely by member fees, and so I have a team of 33 people that are working with 400 members.

Q427 Chair: So they would have to join your organisation.

Susan Scott-Parker: Yes. But I would say that, if this small employer is in Leeds, there should be a phone number he can call and say, "Help me figure this out." How can a Work Programme with hundreds of millions of pounds not have a phone number for the small company to call? I do not understand that. I would suggest they go to Remploy. I know that sounds simple, but in our experience Remploy frequently does sit down with the employer and say, "What do you need?" But how can there not be a phone number for that person to call?

Q428 Chair: Is that help not sitting in Jobcentre Plus?

Susan Scott-Parker: No.

Chair: I thought that was what the disability employment adviser was for, but you are right; there is not a single number.

Q429 Glenda Jackson: I am trying to drill a little bit down into what we mean by "disability" in this context. Up to now it seems to me that you have all been saying, in a sense, it is something that is easily recognisable, but what we are seeing in other evidence is that people with the most complex needs, which can cover the whole range of physical and mental disabilities and then some more, are not even being considered for any of these programmes. Are you lacking information? Is it the fault of the providers? We have already seen that they keep sending you other things, and I thought the point you made about them keeping their jobs was very interesting. Is it our failure, really, as a society to recognise what truly constitutes a disability, over and above those that we already know about-being hard of hearing and having poor sight, for example? Do you see what I mean?

Charles Gray: Recognise and educate.

Q430 Glenda Jackson: Yes, but from the point of view of getting people into work, we are also seeing a lot of evidence of people who are completely incapable of work-they have never experienced it and no one has ever told them how to go about it-as in your example of people not being able to get up in the morning. There is a great deal of work that has to be done on the individual before any sane employer is going to look at them. On the issue of you saying employers are customers, is there something that they could be feeding into that process now that says, "Yes, we know it is difficult, but we can possibly do this."?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Talking with my peers, there is a common fear of employing disabled people. The umbrella is very broad and there is little information about it. As an employer, one is not only nervous of health and safety legislation but also employment legislation, which seems on the face of it to be a barrier. I love what Susan says about providers sitting down with employers and saying, "It is not that difficult. This is what you might need to do." That would be fantastically refreshing and would help to assuage some of those concerns one would naturally have as an employer.

Q431 Mr Burley: That segues quite nicely on to the willingness of employers to recruit the longterm unemployed. Some witnesses we have had in this inquiry believe that there is a general unwillingness among employers to employ longterm unemployed people. Do you think that is a fair statement, or, given your comments about 11 out of 12 not even bothering to get out of bed, is it the other way round?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: It is difficult. I find it hard to persuade my managers, but one could not find an easier employer to approach than us, simply because one only has to have a personality to be able to get the interview. We do not have interview panels; there are no assessment groups. The person merely has to turn up, smile and be able to present themselves in front of customers. It is that simple. If it is that easy, I am not sure how difficult it is to give us the right type of people.

Q432 Mr Burley: Why do you think, then, people have this attitude that there is an unwillingness among employers to employ longterm unemployed people?

Charles Gray: Can I raise something? Everybody in a business reports to somebody, and if you are a wellintentioned manager and you want to employ disabled people, how difficult is it to sell it upwards in your own organisation, how risky is it, and how expensive is it? We are not helping managers to hire disabled or longterm unemployed people; we are making it more difficult for them. Managers have enough trouble; they take the line of least resistance. Is there a helpline where they can learn about Access to Work? Imagine an employer who has to justify it to his or her boss; you are making life very difficult for them. We all report to somebody.

Susan Scott-Parker: We have to remember that recruiting anyone is difficult and risky. It is like getting married. We know that interviews are a terrible predictor of performance, which is why we have invented probation. If what we are doing is asking an employer to imagine the potential of someone when there is nothing in their CV because they have not been working for two years, what we have is the need for the providers to be expert on how you translate what that individual has done in the last two years in terms of running their lives and their community involvement into the language an employer can recognise in terms of skills. I would say to Jane Campbell2, "You are either dependent on a team of six people or you manage a team of six people, and you have to do all the scheduling, the payroll and everything else." The providers do not help an individual to explain what they know and can contribute to the business, nor do the providers understand what the employer requires from the person as they are coming through. For example, a longterm unemployed person often does not do well at interview, which is why we encourage our members to do work trials. Give the person a week, 10 days or two months to demonstrate what their potential is on the ground. The providers do not encourage employers to offer work trials, because they are not expert on what stops a disabled person from getting a job, which is in the control of the employer or in the control of the person. They are still just assuming that, if they throw enough people at this world of work, magically some will get through.

Q433 Mr Burley: Charles, you mentioned helplines. Is there anything else you think the Government could do to encourage you guys to employ longterm unemployed people?

Charles Gray: I have been in the lucky position over the last 10 years where I have worked with a large number of private sector clients, small and large, as well as public sector clients. It comes down to education and leadership. Where does a manager go to learn about Access to Work? If you go on the website, it is painfully hard. You want to make it easy for people to gain this information and sell it up in their organisation. I would also like to know what happens when it goes wrong. We have to help people, so when things do go wrong, we give them support and guidance on this.

Susan Scott-Parker: And give the managers support.

Charles Gray: Yes, exactly. Education is a big part of it. The other thing about it is: what about some kind of-dare I say it-regulator; somebody who sets standards, can set targets for the agencies and understands the endtoend process?

Q434 Mr Burley: There is a lot of talk at the moment about things like quotas for women on boards and so on. Do you think we should have a quota system to try to encourage people? How hard should the Government be in forcing people?

Charles Gray: The Government should be very clear in its direction and what it expects, but quotas-this is a personal opinion-sometimes do more damage than good. One of the things is work trials, as Susan mentioned. We had a work trial where we brought in a disabled person; they became part of the team, and the team supported them and created a support network for that person. Maybe this idea of trials is better than quotas. I think people would find a way around quotas.

Q435 Jane Ellison: I am really interested by this point that is coming across now about the lack of support for employers in terms of preparing to take disabled people into the workplace, etc. I have had some personal experience of that, and I have been asking this question of disability charities for the last two years: who does an employer go to? Have any of you got any experience of any of the disability rights groups or charities being in a position to give employerfacing advice on employing disabled people?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I know that Timpson has been approached by a number, especially where we have tried to look at employing exservice people. I cannot for the life of me remember any names, and I have not, stupidly, brought any. Certainly, I was very impressed with those. I really am struggling to remember the name of the charity that approached us. I think they were based in Glasgow, and they were willing to come to us and explain how that might be easier. Work trials are something that is often mentioned, and it is something that we employ very much within the Timpson Foundation for exoffenders. We have given a number of work trials.

Q436 Jane Ellison: That is your initiative.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: It is.

Q437 Jane Ellison: I am trying to get to the bottom of whether there is a big gap here. A lot of effort has gone into enabling rights, etc, but there is not enough concentration on what expert advice can be given to the other side of the fence-to employers-to prepare them and enable them to employ disabled people.

Andrea Fozard: From our perspective, we would like to see more people with disabilities coming through to our employers. We work with our employers to challenge perceptions. You mentioned earlier the perception of the Work Programme. There is a fairly poor perception of the Work Programme among a large number of the suppliers that we deal with. That is mostly due to some of the press and media coverage, which is what they generally see. With regards to disability in particular, even prior to our partnership with the Work Programme, we made particular strides to engage with Remploy to talk about how we could make sure that vacancies that are coming up we are able to provide access to for those people. From our perspective, it is all about levelling the playing field for people, whatever their background may be.

Q438 Jane Ellison: But was that your initiative?

Andrea Fozard: It was. What I would say is we are driving now to work with the primes, because we need to see more people come through the Work Programme with disabilities. We want that to happen. They have been open to working with existing partnerships that we have; where we have had recruitment drives, they have worked with our partners. As an employer, we would like to see them do more. We challenge perceptions with our suppliers in a range of areas-ex-offenders in particular is one we have worked on over the past couple of years-and we have success. Our employers are open, but these people are not being referred through to us.

Susan Scott-Parker: Can I answer that question with a couple of examples? The funding discourages the prime contractors from sending disabled individuals to the disabled charities that might be able to help. That is one observation. The second thing is that we have got two things running here. One is the scrounger perception, which people with disabilities are really struggling with. The question has always been for me: why would an employer hire a scrounger? All of that is getting in the way, but we do see some good examples. The National Autistic Society is still doing brilliant work helping employers to train their managers to delegate in new ways so that these individuals can get really good jobs. Project Search, which GlaxoSmithKline has just piloted, helps people stuck in the further education system. We have to look endtoend; they are stuck in FE and so they are not even going into the Work Programme yet. They have got 12 individuals with complex requirements going through a programme that sees them doing internships in different departments across the company. Already five of the 12 have been offered jobs and two have moved into independent living. The point with Project Search is that it starts with the employer-"What vacancies have you got? What do you need?"-and then matches the individuals into this programme, blending education and onthejob training. It typically gets 60% to 80% success rates, compared with 10% to 20% for this group, because it starts with the employer. We will be promoting that like crazy.

Q439 Teresa Pearce: What you have just said is it is easier to get a job when you have got a job; when you have not got a job and you are out of work, there is always a risk to an employer in taking you on. They ask: "Why have they been out of work?" If you have been out of work longterm and you have got the label of "shirker" or "skiver" over your head-employers read papers, too-it is about challenging this perception. It is really important that, when the Work Programme do your CV, they explain the gap. I went to the Work Programme provider locally to ask for someone to come and work parttime in my office and they sent me so many CVs from which it was clear, because I investigated them, that the person had been out of work looking after their children. They did not say that; there was just a gap of six years. You have to wonder, but if they had said all the different things that person had done, anyone at home with children is not skiving. We need to understand that employers do not live in their factory; they live in the world, and they read the papers. We all need to challenge that.

Susan Scott-Parker: Yes. We see the need to stop generalising. My response to the sort of question, "Are disabled people employable?" used to be, "You do not ask if Canadians are employable."

Q440 Mr Burley: There is a charity in my constituency called the Newlife Foundation, which raises several million pounds a year for disabled children and employs over 100 disabled people locally. What I learned from my visit there is that you have to break them in gently. They will have someone who maybe starts working half a day a week and then over time they put them up to a day, and they end up working fulltime; but it is a gradual process. They understand that because of the nature of the charity and the social enterprise they run. Do you think other employers are similarly accommodating, or realise that it is not like taking on an employee straightaway to a do fulltime job and you may need to be more accommodating in order to get disabled people into work?

Susan Scott-Parker: That is where I was going when I said we do not generalise. I would be saying to the employer not, "Would you be accommodating and bring people you have not met yet into jobs you are not sure you are going to fill?", but, at the right time, "I have got Harry here. He has got these skills. He looks like a good match. This is what he needs from your manager. This is how I am going to support you." You focus on each individual, because they will all be different. Then the employer is facing, "Oh, George," as opposed to generalities about people who are not applying.

Q441 Mr Burley: Gouy, in Timpson, if someone said, "I want to work, but I am only willing to start off doing two days a week, or just mornings, because I want to ease my way in," is your organisation prepared to be that flexible?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Absolutely, yes. It is a bit like reemploying somebody from long-term sick; it is on a phased basis. Clearly, you have to make the accommodation, and we are willing to do that to get the right person, absolutely.

Q442 Debbie Abrahams: Reflecting back on the question about what we can do to encourage employers and to promote employers taking on both longterm unemployed and disabled people, Andrea mentioned the workforce data monitoring; I wonder if that is a route in. If you routinely monitor how many women, older people and disabled people you have as a proportion of your workforce, that is surely a prompt to large organisations in particular, but to all organisations. It does not happen, but should it be happening?

Susan Scott-Parker: We have looked at the monitoring thing for more than 20 years, and I would say flatly that no organisation will ever know how many disabled people it employs, because most people with disabilities have none visible. If you are a really good employer, why tell you, because I am already doing fine? If you are not a good employer, I would be crazy to tell you. You will never know. However, monitoring whether or not the agencies that are giving you candidates are putting forward candidates that need adjustments of some sort, even if it is just challenging an assumption as an adjustment, makes perfect sense. Members have wasted so much time trying to collect data that they cannot use because it does not give them helpful information, but you can certainly work with your suppliers to try to get a better mix of candidates coming through.

Q443 Debbie Abrahams: Even if it is anonymous? That was the principle of workforce monitoring.

Susan Scott-Parker: Where members get better results is in employee satisfaction and employee engagement scores-where the chief executive says, "Do you approve of me? Do you like working here?" and those sorts of things. Companies that have been able to disaggregate disabled employee satisfaction scores, question by question, and compare them to nondisabled employees find that is helpful, because if they see that disabled employees are less likely to expect fair deals at promotion, they can then look at what is going wrong in the promotion area. The statistics that are gathered in those surveys are really useful and our members are actively seeking to improve those scores on a daily basis.

Q444 Mr Burley: I have a final question for Andrea and Gouy. Not that the motivation necessarily matters, but was your motivation for your schemes out of a sense of corporate social responsibility, or out of a businesscasebased approach?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: A bit of both. It was really just the success we had in the prisons. I have worked for Timpson for 30 years, and I could not believe how blind we had been to a wider recruitment pool. Once we had recruited our first 192 exoffenders, we suddenly realised there was much more out there. Dealing with organisations like those Susan represents and the like has opened our eyes. It is a bit of business need and a bit of recognising of corporate responsibility, but selfishly, yes, we feel good about doing things like that.

Andrea Fozard: I would mirror that. It is both things. There is absolutely a business need within the industry that we work in. Engineering is one of our core functions, and there are huge skill shortages. The average age of an engineer is now 55; he is white and he is male. That does not reflect the communities we serve. As a public sector organisation, TfL will deliver the best service by being able to reflect our communities. That also gives us a very strong mandate throughout the business and the organisation. At the same time, from a corporate social responsibility perspective, it is absolutely the right thing for us to do. Mike can say more about this, but we spend Government money and therefore we must see positive community benefits from that.

Mike Lycett: Particularly with our suppliers, there is absolutely a business need in our supply chain, because they have the jobs that need to be filled. There is a business need to put people in touch with those jobs. Like Timpson, ours is a dual responsibility. As you would expect, there is a strong corporate social responsibility ethos that pervades TfL as an organisation, but it is definitely a dual thing for us.

Q445 Sheila Gilmore: What is coming over to me very powerfully from all of you is the need to distinguish between different groups. We talk a lot about people who have very clear disabilities, and there are also people who perhaps do not. Longterm unemployed people may be disabled, but they may not; they may have mental health problems, but they may not. Would you all agree that we need to be much clearer that they are not one group?

Susan Scott-Parker: Absolutely. The Work Programme providers need to understand what particular disabilityspecific obstacles different groups encounter. The obstacles that a wheelchairusing graduate encounters will be different from the obstacles a 45yearold individual with some problems with his hands encounters. Understanding what disabilityspecific obstacles need to be removed for different groups is crucial, and yet we do not expect these providers to demonstrate any know-how in this domain. The second thing would be that the focus in terms of job placement is on the individuals, and so it is the providers that really need to understand what needs to be done differently, so that this person can demonstrate that they can do the job. Ultimately, the employer is looking at an individual and the support needs to be there for the manager if things need to be done differently to help him learn how to do that.

Q446 Sheila Gilmore: In terms of working with Work Programme providers, what seems to be happening in London, from what you are saying, is there is a degree of co-operation. The system was perhaps set up to be more competitive than that, because one of the measurements of success in London is whether one prime’s performance is better than another. Do you think the cooperation model or the competition model is working best, or have you only had experience of one? I am looking at TfL in particular.

Andrea Fozard: From a delivery perspective, we know which primes are delivering best for ourselves. There are a couple that have taken steps to provide a fantastic service. The way we view it is that the collaboration is driving that behaviour. Where the primes have really got behind the partnership, they are the ones that are seeing the results. From our perspective, yes, that is a good thing, because effectively, while they are working together, they are competing against each other for the same pot of funding at the end of the day.

Q447 Stephen Lloyd: Out of curiosity, Andrea, are those couple that you say are working much more effectively doing better on the league tables for the numbers of people they are getting into employment overall, from what you have seen?

Andrea Fozard: From what I understand, yes. We have been trying to drill down to look at why we are getting such great results from these primes in particular. One of the key things is that, with those particular primes, there has been a continuity of staff working with us as employers, so we have been able to build that longerterm partnership. With a number of the other primes, it has been a pretty continuous flow of different leads, and that makes it very difficult for them to understand our business and our requirements. That is why I think there are very variable results across the country. We have the luxury of seeing all six together, but it is very dependent on individual offices and primes.

Q448 Glenda Jackson: Susan, you said pretty categorically that providers are not taking on board the individual requirements of the people they are supposed to be helping, yet they were awarded contracts by the Government because one of the Government’s requirements was that the most difficult, hardesttoreach unemployed people-and that covered the whole range of what we call disabilities-were going to be met. Do you have evidence from your members that you could furnish this Committee with-I am not asking for it now-to show the providers that are being used by your members are markedly failing to meet what we were told the Government’s requirements were? If you have, could you let us have it?

Susan Scott-Parker: We could get in touch with members and see if we can pull it together for you. I will be frank and say we got in touch with quite a few in preparation for today, and could not find very many that to their knowledge had ever used a Work Programme provider.

Glenda Jackson: Really?

Chair: That is telling in itself.

Stephen Lloyd: You are mostly the major companies, are you not?

Q449 Glenda Jackson: We have had evidence presented to us that a high proportion of vacancies never go through any of the established areas.

Susan Scott-Parker: It may well be that some of the members have recruited from these providers and do not know it, because they do not know how the system works at all. I would be happy to get a better understanding afterwards of what kind of questions you would like to ask, and we could certainly go out and survey the members.

Q450 Glenda Jackson: I think it is salient that your members have never been approached in this way.

Susan Scott-Parker: Not that they are aware.

Q451 Chair: We have found that people who are on the Work Programme do not know they are on the Work Programme, so it is not necessarily ignorance of the employers, but the individuals as well.

Susan Scott-Parker: What we found is that the providers we talked to had very low expectations of the employability of the individuals. They had low expectations of the willingness of the employer to adapt and do stuff, and low expectations of the individual. The "park and cream" phenomenon, which you are aware of, is very significant, particularly when it is a disabled person, because the contractors cannot imagine the disabled person in work; they do not know how to do it.

Glenda Jackson: If you could provide us with that evidence, we would be very grateful.

Q452 Nigel Mills: Do you have any views on how the differing approaches of some providers work, or do not work? In my area, one provider effectively has one base in Derby, which is about 10 miles from most of my seat, and the other one has a more local, smaller base. Do you think you get a better outcome if you have got the providers nearer the people they are trying to help and nearer local employers, rather than being stuck somewhere centrally, or do you think it makes no difference at all?

Charles Gray: Can I address that? If you were to ask 10 service providers to write up on the wall what they think their process is, I guarantee you would get 12 or 15 different processes. There is no standard, good or bad. In answer to your question, there is a surprising lack of data, so we do not have that, but what it comes down to is those that have standards, that make an effort to understand their customer and that specify it out and then go back. We have a lot of service providers that never meet the candidates that they are providing. They have never, ever met with them or spoken with them directly. It is so variable that it is hard to answer that.

Glenda Jackson: That is the black box, is it not?

Q453 Sheila Gilmore: One of the advantages of the approaches of both TfL and Timpson is that you have got a clear idea of what your, or your suppliers’, needs are, and there are very specific jobs at the end of that. One of the previous criticisms of a lot of training programmes, which much predates the Work Programme, was that they were constantly training people but with nothing particular in mind. We set one up in Edinburgh years ago that was about our health service, which was identified as being a growth industry in the area. We set up something that very specifically worked with the health board as the employer, people who were unemployed, and training that fitted that, and giving people at least a guaranteed interview at the end-the whole thing that there is something that is not just abstract. Do you think that is one of the reasons why it is working better for you?

Andrea Fozard: Absolutely. I mirror exactly what you say there. I know we are very fortunate in the sense that we have opportunities there at the end of this. The primes are engaged because they know there are opportunities. The next steps for us are looking at our future demand, looking at what opportunities we know are coming up over the next 12 months and working to ensure that the primes are able to prepare their candidates that may be further away from the labour market in this time to move them closer to where we need them to be. We have also identified that, while we have a variety of roles that have been filled through the Work Programme, fundamentally, each and every role includes customer service. That is paramount for Transport for London. We now know that if we can work with these Work Programme candidates to prepare them with excellent customer service skills, that will provide them with what they need.

You talked about the blackbox approach. While I think it does drive innovation and it is great, two key things are coming out of this programme for us as lacking. Teresa, you mentioned earlier on CVs. CVs can be shocking, even once people have sat down with a Work Programme adviser. What we see is not reflective of the individuals. We have met people who have got five or 10 years’ construction experience, and it is not on their CV. It is outrageous. That is one rant.

CVs are important, as is interview preparation. These are two standard things. We do believe it is important to monitor, because it is a pilot for us and we want to be able to learn from the year. One of the areas that we are really focusing on is the conversion from interviews to job starts. By the time that Work Programme candidate gets to the stage where they are sitting in front of our employer, the employer is engaged, they have been through various assessments in the selection process, and it really is down to their interview skills. Only 50% of them across the programme have gone on into a job at that stage. Effectively, that is the same number again that could have, if they had been prepared to the level they needed to be in an interview scenario, gone on into work. What I would say is that, over the course of the year, that number has greatly increased, so we are looking at a yearly average, and that is building on lessons learned throughout. That very much is a focus now in our partnership work: it is around CVs, interview preparation and looking at what we can do with generic competencies that we know come out of our jobs.

Q454 Sheila Gilmore: Is the Work Programme coordinator that you employ paid for by TfL?

Andrea Fozard: No. Currently, that post is funded through the prime contractors, and the agreement has been made that they will continue to fund that for a further 12 months. However, it has already been acknowledged in the session that we do put additional efforts and support in ourselves.

Mike Lycett: One position is funded by the primes, but it is a position within a team that we already have, so that one person gets extra support from the team. There is one role directly funded, but it does not then become a stand-alone role; there is a support system to help whoever is in that role.

Andrea Fozard: Yes, and it links into some of our other priorities around apprenticeships, etc. There are other people in the team who all work together, and it is about trying to combine those so that, moving forward, the next step for us with the Work Programme is linking into the apprenticeship opportunities, etc.

Susan Scott-Parker: What we have seen in the past that works very well with people who have been out of the labour market for a while is what we used to call customised training, where you would bring a group of 10 or 12 individuals together and prepare them over a period of three, five or perhaps seven days for the interview-help them understand the business that they were applying to and get their confidence back up. As far as we can tell, the funding for that is now nowhere. We do not see the prime contractors approaching employers and offering to run programmes like this for them, because they are still focusing on just throwing individuals at the world of work. Has TfL asked them to do customised pretraining? Are they funding it?

Andrea Fozard: We are in discussions at the moment as part of the stage for year two whereby it is particularly important for us to ensure that young Londoners have access to our opportunities, and we have been driving that behaviour with the primes over the past 12 months. Through the team that Mike referred to, we also run a programme with the London Transport Museum, which is called Routes into Work. It is a threeday preapprenticeship, preemployment training programme.

Susan Scott-Parker: Who pays for it?

Andrea Fozard: In the first year, we have contributed towards that. We have put some funding towards it, and the London Transport Museum has drawn down on other charitable funding, etc. However, we are at a stage now where that programme is no longer sustainable, so we need to look at how we can fund it if we are to continue with it. It has been very successful to date; there have been 140 young people through it, of whom 50% have gone on to work within our supply chain. We know that it works and we know that our suppliers are supportive of it. We are in discussions with the primes now in London to look at whether or not they will contribute to continuing to fund that programme for us over the next 12 months, so that we can have specific Routes into Work activities each month, focused on the core competencies that we know our supply chain is looking for, so that we are then starting to build that pool of candidates that are ready for work with our suppliers. While it has not been signed off as such, we have spoken about it, and we will be bringing the London Transport Museum to the next steering group in London to present the offer. That is very much our intention.

Jane Ellison: I wanted to pose a question for you to have a few moments to think about and come back to. We have started asking people at the end of witness sessions for one thing they would change that would make a difference. I want to say that now and let you have a few minutes to think about it, rather than leap on you. We will make that the last question. We are interested in longerterm recommendations for our report, but in particular we are interested in relatively quickwin things that people could do now to achieve the objective of this inquiry, which is to help disadvantaged jobseekers in the Work Programme. I am just putting you on notice: we will ask for one thing from each of you before we end this session.

Q455 Nigel Mills: Andrea, you mentioned that you were disappointed that some people sent by providers still did not have a decent CV and they had no interview practice. Is that something you see also from people who are coming from Jobcentre Plus? It is a bit concerning that someone, say, has been a year under the auspices of Jobcentre Plus and then on the Work Programme and still no one has managed to get their CV and interview skills sorted.

Andrea Fozard: Yes, from my experience, whether it be Jobcentre Plus or the Work Programme, there can be a general inconsistency, depending on which adviser they meet or what day it is. It is for the companies, I believe, to look at developing a more structured process so there is almost an assurance that needs to be instigated in the way they operate. We get bad CVs from Jobcentre Plus and we get excellent ones. It is hard to say it is unique to the Work Programme. Because of our partnership work, it is something that I particularly think should be addressed. We have addressed it through our programme, but it is probably an issue more widely.

Q456 Graham Evans: Gouy, Timpson have been able to set up academies in prisons to teach the skills needed to work in its branches-essentially, teaching prisoners to become cobblers. What difficulties did you face setting up that scheme?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: We faced difficulties from the prisons themselves and some of the cultures of the prisons. In a particular prison, we were stopped at every opportunity from getting a steady flow of prisoners into an academy. Essentially, what we do is set up a space within a prison; we try to encourage the management there to have a steady flow of prisoners coming through, so that we can have a look at them to see whether they would be able to apply themselves to our training and to stay there and not be disruptive. That has proved the most difficult bit. What we have done is assigned a Timpson ambassador. This person visits the 82 prisons we are dealing with at the moment, and he bullies the governor or the local management to make sure that prisoners, when they first come in-whether they are going from court on to another prison, or whether they are going there for their sentence-pass the academy, so that they know that opportunity is there. For goodness’ sake, we pay for all of this. Repairing shoes is not rocket science. I do not like the word "cobbling"; it is like a swear word for us, because it is slightly more technical.

Graham Evans: Sorry.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: The only thing they do not do is cut keys, for obvious reasons, but they do engraving, watchrepair, jewellery-repair, dry cleaning-the whole lot. This is for business reasons, because in 2004 we happened upon a guy who had such an amazing personality that we thought, "Gosh, that is exactly what we need." In fact, we changed our entire recruitment process around that one meeting and said, "We are not interested in CVs, for God’s sake. Most of them are awful anyway. Come and present yourself for an interview. Turn up on time and have an attitude that you want to work, and we can guarantee you an interview at the very minimum." What we found is that of the hundreds of prisoners who have come to us for interview, the vast majority stay. We are not as good as TfL at collecting data, because there are only four or five of us in my department, but the reoffending rate-those we know get their collar felt back again-is fantastically small. I would suggest it is almost in single figures. What we have found is, if you give them a job and give them direction, they are not going to reoffend. We are saving the country millions.

Susan Scott-Parker: Many of them will have disabilities.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: They do, and those types of disability that are hard to define: considerable mental problems. Give people a task; give people a purpose; and give them an opportunity, which we do, then they will-

Q457 Graham Evans: Yet the Prison Service puts barriers in your way. What is the cost of the scheme? How is it funded?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I do not know the cost of the scheme, but I can provide all of the financial data later.

Susan Scott-Parker: But you fund it all.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: We had to start somewhere, because we were not getting any help. We have just recently qualified for funding, and I think that is only weeks old. We fund everything at the moment.

Q458 Graham Evans: The Timpson Foundation funded it.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Yes.

Q459 Graham Evans: How easy would it be for other types of employers and Work Programme providers to replicate what you do? For example, you also own Max Spielmann, so you are in retail; you also do photo processing.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: That is right. One area that most people do not touch-and I do not know if it is because of our perception of that particular individual-is the female prisoner. Female prisoners are fantastically discriminated against, and we find that of all the people that come to us, those who really struggle to present themselves are female prisoners. I do not know if it is just society’s view of female prisoners. What we realised is that, by accident or design, the majority of shoerepairing Timpson people are males; the majority of photoprocessing Max Spielmann people are female. It is just the way it is. What we said is we would open up in-I am not sure if it is Thorn Cross or Forest Bank; it might be Forest Bank-a Max Spielmann academy, which I have visited many times myself, where female prisoners take on the skills, and 16 weeks prior to their release, we give them a work opportunity in our Max Spielmann branches, they stick and they are employed. Our Manager of the Year for 2012 was a female exoffender running one of our Max Spielmann branches. Fulltime employment; fantastic. Some prisoners are not good for us, I understand that, but they might be good for other people. While they have got skills from our academies, these are not just the practical Timpson skills, but also retail skills that are crosstransferable. We have involved Iceland, Pets at Home and Travelodge, because they have either warehousing or cleaning jobs that the person might be better suited to. We are trying to encourage them to do it, and that is difficult.

Q460 Graham Evans: What you are saying is other employers could replicate the Timpson Foundation if they wanted to.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Easily.

Susan Scott-Parker: But the contractors are not promoting it to you; you are doing it the other way.

Q461 Glenda Jackson: Could I just ask one question on this? There has been a thrust from a previous Minister in DWP, who is now in the Ministry of Justice, to help prisoners who will soon be leaving prison to get their benefits in order. We have had evidence that this is markedly failing to work, because one of the first things that is required, say, by JCP is a National Insurance number and they do not have one. The reason for this is it seems to me that you have got a marvellous scheme running and yet you are still receiving opposition from the people who you would have thought would be most keen to assist you. Is that a fairly accurate assessment?

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: That is very accurate. When the door closes behind the prisoner when he is released, we help with a week’s worth of groceries, because they get £50 in their pocket, or whatever it is; and we liaise with any accommodation needs, because they do not want to go back to the same place they were nicked at because they are likely to reoffend. Given that we have got nearly 1,000 branches nationwide, we are able to move them anywhere, and we do, at our cost. Those first few weeks are absolutely critical, because otherwise the person will go back to where they came from, reoffend and go back inside.

Q462 Glenda Jackson: There is a clear paradox between what Government is saying about wishing to reduce reoffending and getting people with disabilities into work.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: Yes.

Q463 Chair: We are going to come back to Jane’s question, which is: what one thing would you change about the Work Programme? I was going to say you are only allowed one, but if you are really bursting and you have got more than one, we will allow you.

Charles Gray: I would go to Ms Jackson’s point. You are rewarding the wrong behaviour. I used to work with the banks, and they would pay people if the cash machine did not run out of money. What people would do is fold the secondtolast $20 bill, so it would jam; it would never run out of money, but people could not get the money. Look at your endtoend process and see what you are doing, so you are getting the right results, and reward that way. Right now the reward mechanisms, especially for the service providers, are not meeting the customer needs.

Q464 Graham Evans: Charles, it is because you come from the automotive manufacturing industry and it is a success story and you know about customers and customer service that you are saying that.

Charles Gray: That is because we almost died, and we went to learn from somebody else. By the way, this has worked in other environments. In HMRC, if you want to see lean, go up to NICO in Newcastle. It can transfer.

Susan Scott-Parker: I would say create some kind of a regulatory body over this, so that it holds the Work Programme and the broader welfaretowork system to account in a way that the funder cannot. It would be asked to do what Charles has described: to pull the learning out of private sector lean thinking that says start with the customer as the employer and push the system to meet the employer needs, because better services for employers equals better services for disabled individuals.

Gouy Hamilton-Fisher: I would say bully providers to bully their way into employers, to get them to understand what the employer really needs. That way they spread their learning, they pick up best practice, and they enable the person that they are representing to be able to stick to that organisation better.

Andrea Fozard: I would suggest looking at the way the primes engage with and enable their own supply chains to provide employers with one point of contact and one umbrella so we know that, by working with the primes, we are working with the disability organisations and we are working with all those organisations that are working with exoffenders, etc-an umbrella approach.

Mike Lycett: We have done a lot with our suppliers, and we have made our suppliers aware of the programmes. I do not know how you do it, but they did not seem to be very aware of the programme themselves. Anything to promote it-because that is where there are lots of jobs-would help the scheme.

Chair: Can I thank you very much? We think this has been a very good session, and we were absolutely right to get employers in. Apparently, it was quite difficult to persuade employers to come to speak to us, so we really appreciate that you did come to share your experiences, both the good and the bad. That is exactly what we were looking for. Thanks very much.

[1] Small and medium enterprise.

[2] Baroness Campbell of Surbiton.

Prepared 20th May 2013