APPENDIX 3: SITE VISITS|
European Social Fund inquiry: visit to hardest to
help support provision at Tomorrow's People Trust, 3 December
The Members of the Sub-Committee that visited Tomorrow's
People Trust were Baroness Howarth of Breckland (Chairman) and
Lord Inglewood. Kate Meanwell, the Clerk to the Sub-Committee,
and John Bell, the Specialist Adviser for the inquiry, were also
Tomorrow's People Trust is a charity that has been
established for 25 years and works to tackle the cycle of unemployment.
Its ESF-funded project is located in the East of London and is
targeted at the "hardest to help", such as lone parents,
the over-50s, participants with disability or health problems,
ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed. It has been in operation
for 18 months, and is part of the London Job Centre Plus (DWP)
co-financed ESF programme, under Priority 1. The project started
in July 2008 and will run until July 2011, with ESF funding of
The Sub-Committee was met by Margaret Strickland
(Local Operations Manager, Tomorrow's People Trust), Chris Dunne
(DWP Contract Manager), Sam Shearer (Head of Marketing Department
at Tomorrow's People Trust), Greg Mavroudis (Employer engagement
team, Tomorrow's People Trust), Steve Swan (Director of Welfare
to Work for Tomorrow's People Trust), Paul Salisbury (Lancaster
Office Cleaning), Sharlene DeCourtney-Odle (District ESF Manager
for City & East District), Matt Price (Short Term Limited)
and Graham Flooks (Short Term Limited).
The visit began with an overview of the Tomorrow's
People Trust's work in Bow under its ESF-funded LO4 project, that
is "hardest to help support provision", a large part
of which involves motivational work and confidence building with
It was reported that there is no distinction between
which parts of the project are financed by the EU and which by
the UK. It is comprised of two main strands - "ready to work"
which targets the long-term unemployed who could quickly be moved
back into work with a little training; and "care to work"
which is predominantly aimed at lone parents and provides them
with the necessary qualifications to work in the care industry.
Participants can engage with the programme for up to 19 weeks
in a one year period, and can leave and return during that time.
Chris Dunne, commenting on the distinction between
ESF supported activity and national mainstream programmes, felt
that the ESF contract was able to work more actively around employers'
and participants' needs. He suggested that the provision from
Tomorrow's People Trust was a more approachable option for people,
which worked much more closely with clients in comparison with
the New Deal, which operated more systematically.
Sharlene DeCourtney-Odle highlighted that unlike
some other national programmes, participants did not have to be
in receipt of Job Seeker's Allowance to be eligible for the ESF-funded
support. Chris Dunne echoed this point, stating that the ESF-funded
programme filled the gap between signing on and the New Deal,
and after leaving the New Deal, when participants would not be
able to re-join for 18 months. It was felt that this enabled more
"joined up" provision and kept beneficiaries in touch
with the possibilities of employment and training which they could
not otherwise access.
Steve Swan estimated the participant cost per job
at £5,000 which he thought was an appropriate level of funding
for those furthest away from the labour market. Chris Dunne emphasised
that the objective of the programme was to make people more employable
as well as to secure a job for them and reported that so far the
project had met the district's expectations quite well.
Project specifications and bids
In discussing project specifications, Chris Dunne
reported that the DWP District outlines key areas of a programme
that it would like to be addressed within the overall scope of
the relevant co-financing plan, in this case the first funding
round of the London Job Centre Plus plan for 2007-2013. Most recently
for the City & East London district these were care work and
provision for New Deal leavers, with the focus of the round being
the hardest to help. It was reported that the percentage of different
client groups expected (such as ethnic minorities and lone parents)
is set at the National level in agreement with the EU.
From the provider's perspective, Steve Swan stated
that upon seeing a specification advertised, they would analyse
how it fits with the Trust's mission, what needs to be achieved,
and how realistic the targets are. The Trust also looks for opportunities
where it can deliver the model that it has found to work and tries
to make it a demand led process by researching employers' needs.
In the most recent commissioning cycle, the Trust bid for four
programmes, two in London and two in the west of England. The
Trust's no-bid rate is about 75%, and the success rate when it
does submit a bid is about 60%.
Steve Swan felt that co-financed funding was a double
edged sword. He highlighted the advantage of the Trust not having
to find match funding itself, but thought that the previous system
whereby SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) and ESF match could be
used together had worked well and brought benefits by co-ordinating
ESF with SRB provision. He highlighted the Getting London Working
project as an example of this.
Another change discussed under the provision of co-financing
related to how the funding is divided. Whereas under the previous
programme the organisation received the funds if it demonstrated
that it was fulfilling its obligations under that project, there
are now two aspects to this, with a management fee and an output-related
element. Steve Swan reported that with some commissioning strategies
the Trust had decided not to bid for the provision because the
split between the two entailed too much upfront expenditure and
risk for the provider. For the current LO4 programme there is
a 50/50 split between the management fee and output related funding,
whereas with some projects Steve Swan and Chris Dunne confirmed
that this could be weighted as a 30/70 split.
Responding to the suggestion that future ESF programmes
might target only the poorer Member States with funding, Margaret
Strickland felt that there was real poverty in the UK and that
much of it was hidden. She stressed that there are people in the
UK in need of the support that the ESF provides.
Adaptability of the programme
Sharlene DeCourtney-Odle commented on the usefulness
of the ESF contract in delivering tailor-made training that could
be adapted according to the needs of participants, albeit within
certain parameters. Margaret Strickland emphasised the evolutionary
nature of the project and its ability to change in response to
new ideas, needs and external stimuli. Examples of this included
the creation of a customer service course, the addition of food
hygiene to the "care to work" course, and of CCTV training
to the security package. These changes were made after discussion
between the provider and DWP and financed from the discretionary
fund in the contract.
Work with employers
The importance of employers in the work of the programme
was emphasised by Margaret Strickland, who highlighted the relationship
between Tomorrow's People Trust and Lancaster Cleaning Company,
which employs just over 4,000 people nationwide. The two started
working together several months ago, and the Company has since
trained 200 participants and employed 50, of whom only four have
not continued in employment. Margaret stated that the Company
provided people with the potential to progress once they had started
work with the organisation and stressed that the sustainability
of this employment was an important factor in its success.
In this context, it was highlighted that Tomorrow's
People Trust provide in-work support to participants for six months
across both LO4 (hardest to help support provision) and LO5 programmes
(pre-employment and in-work support). This includes regular dialogue
with the employer and the employee, which Margaret Strickland
and Paul Salisbury felt enabled small problems to be resolved
before they escalated, aiding the retention of staff.
Paul Salisbury explained that the Lancaster Cleaning
Company's involvement with Tomorrow's People Trust followed its
establishment of a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee.
He highlighted the high turnover of staff in the industry and
stated that they were now matching the right people with the right
jobs. He also commented on the positive attention the relationship
received from clients, who were keen to be associated with the
Another company recruiting some of its staff through
the ESF-funded LO4 programme of Tomorrow's People Trust is Short
Term Limited, a recruitment company in the construction industry
which is based in the same building as the Trust. This company
has been working with the project for 6-8 months. Matt Price explained
that he had not realised the use they could have from the Trust
in filling vacancies. He explained that Tomorrow's People Trust
can facilitate various aspects of training for them too, such
as the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card and
security training. Paul Salisbury underscored the importance of
this, stating that it used to cost Lancaster Cleaning Company
over £1,000 to train an employee.
Graham Flooks highlighted the cost of training as
a barrier to many wishing to return to employment. For example,
with Security Industry Authority (SIA) training it can cost over
£300 to obtain the relevant card, which he felt would be
out of many people's reach. He identified a particular problem
in the construction industry where there have been a number of
redundancies. Whereas previously many of these positions did not
require a CSCS card, it was explained that this may not be the
case with new positions in the industry, following the implementation
of CSCS across the board. Pre-employment checks were another area
where it was felt that the programme benefited employers.
The primary barrier identified for the project was
that it can only help those within the defined District, and the
Trust has had to turn away prospective participants because they
did not meet this requirement. Chris Dunne recognised that people
in other areas should be able to find support locally but stressed
that there was a motivational aspect to it, whereby people might
not want to go back to the programme they had come from.
Paul Salisbury commented on the regional approach,
recognising that Lancaster Cleaning Company had a model that works
well in getting people out of long term unemployment and into
work, and emphasising that national agreements along the same
lines as that with Tomorrow's People Trust would be welcome.
Members looked at the support being provided to people
using the Trust's services. This included people using the computer
facilities to search and apply for jobs, training sessions in
customer care and a motivational project. Users mentioned that
they received more time and attention from the project than they
would get at a Jobcentre Plus. They were also positive about the
ability and opportunity to work alongside others and foster peer
support. One participant felt that the programme had built their
confidence and particularly appreciated the professional advice
they had received and the way things were tailored to their needs.
Members also spoke to some of the advisors who carry
out one-to-one support with participants. They stated that they
were getting 40-50% of people into jobs and thus meeting their
targets, notwithstanding the current recession. It was explained
that upon registration, participants have an initial assessment
of their needs and are given an individual action plan with targets.
9 December 2009
European Social Fund inquiry: visit to Pecan, Elephant
and Castle, London to discuss the project "Step Up",
3 December 2009
The Members of the Sub-Committee that visited Pecan
were Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope, Lord Wade of Chorlton and Baroness
Young of Hornsey. Alistair Dillon, Policy Analyst to the Sub-Committee
was also in attendance. The Sub-Committee was met by Michael Bradford
(Contracts and Quality Manager, Pecan), Steve Rawlins (Deputy
Director), Andy Tuck (Fundraising Officer), Ellen Fung (Youth
Programmes Manager), Mark Smith (Youth Training Manager), Tope
Chiedozie (Step-Up Caseworker/Trainer), and Lucy Masters (Step-Up
The project aims to help 14-18 year olds to gain
new skills and prepare for employment. It is targeted at those
that have been excluded from school, have excluded themselves
prematurely from school or been referred by a school. The courses
offered are both accredited and non-accredited, so while some
of them see the young people gaining an officially recognised
qualification (such as the European Computer Driving Licence),
the non-accredited courses are often simply designed to improve
the confidence of the young people by awarding them an in-house
certification upon course completion or providing a taster of
courses the young people might be interested in studying, such
as photography. The project started on 1 September 2008 and is
due to finish on 31 July 2010. It will receive £1,012,100
of ESF funding and is co-financed by the Learning and Skills Council
(LSC). The cost of each student per year is around £1200-£1400.
Members had an opportunity to see the computer facilities
available to participants and were photographed by those learning
photography skills. There followed a structured exchange of views
with participants and with project managers.
Views of the participants
The participants were supportive of the project,
considering that it adds value compared to their experiences within
mainstream education. They also stated that they would recommend
their friends to attend. One participant, who learned to touch-type
through the project, indicated that she had benefited particularly
from the advice available from her mentor which had enabled her
to identify a course that she might then pursue at college.
Another participant, who had undertaken a photography
course, noted that there was important value in securing a qualification
in order to obtain a job in media. He considered that it would
not have been possible to secure the qualification without the
support of the project.
The emotional support provided by the project was
particularly welcomed by one participant. Previously out of school,
she has now finished an English course and is currently training
for the ECDL. In her view, she would eventually have made progress
without the course, but over a much longer period of time.
Another participant, who had been excluded from school,
welcomed his course in touch-typing which he didn't feel he could
have completed at school, and he considered that the one-to-one
attention available at the project was a particular benefit.
Views of the project managers
The dominant theme from the managers was that the
"hard outcomes" (number of participants, achievement
of qualification) necessary for the release of funds do not reflect
many of the "soft outcomes" which offer the greatest
benefits to participants.
The "soft outcomes" highlighted
included: the provision of advice; the development of confidence;
the ability to work with others; regular attendance; distance
travelled (for example, simply attending might be a huge development
for one person, relative to another person's achievement of a
It was agreed that it was more difficult to put a
financial value on soft outcomes although, as each young person
is already assessed against individual goals set with their own
case-workers, it was considered possible. It was thought that
tutors would usually know if a young person was on a "meaningful
journey" towards employability.
As regards co-financing, they considered that
the rigid criteria for projects have deterred some small organisations
from getting involved, including those with which Pecan might
Managers noted that they use volunteer mentors to
stay in contact with young people after they have left the project.
None of this follow-up work is funded.
There was some discussion of the evaluation
requirements, which were considered to be onerous. It was the
provider's view that all of the paperwork undertaken is to claim
the funding, with no other benefit accruing to the organisation
itself. There is some audit undertaken by the LSC and by OFSTED.
Pecan considered that the main benefit of
a youth project such as this is the one-to-one attention that
cannot be provided by mainstream education. It was thought that
the ideal contract length would be three years, to be extended
to five years if appropriate, rather than the current two years.
It was reported that at the end of each contract period, the organisation
faces possible redundancies.
9 December 2009