Tuesday, 5 April 2011

In Soviet Britain, Government Works For Contractors

When the Work Programme was announced to the press this week the press release states falsely and many newspapers copied that the Citizens Advice Bureau would be taking part as a sub-contractor. Chris Grayling is behind it unsurprisingly, not deterred by the fact that he has been referred to the Cabinet Office for breaching the ministerial code for putting out overtly political and misleading press releases through the DWP.

I was at CAB today and asked the boss about it and she was furious. They are aware of this and she explained what had happened.

A while ago A4e approached CAB regarding the Work Programme about sub-contracting to provide 'income maximisation' services. Basically the Jobcentre has for years made a habit out of calculating how much a client would earn if they moved into work rather than stayed on benefits, as encouragement because of course almost no one is better off on Britain's stingy minimal benefits despite what the Coalition dog-whistle says. A4e don't have enough staff with the basic maths skills to do this for clients referred to them, so they wanted CAB to do it.

CAB told them that they wouldn't commit to anything, they had strong reservations but in the spirit of goodwill(which was exceptional considering the sustained market-based attack A4e has made against CAB in the last two years) they would at least talk to them about it. That was good enough for A4e who then went to the DWP and told them CAB would be working for them in the Work Programme. The DWP asked no questions, didn't check with CAB and just added them to the list of charities getting involved in the 'big society'. I doubt the DWP has asked many of the 300 charities for permission to add them to this list. The DWP has been informed, but have no put out a clarification yet. My boss met with the director of CAB in York yesterday, who told her all this. She says that whilst they were open to discussions with A4e on the Work Programme before, A4e had no right to do what they did and there isn't a dog-shit's chance in hell they will ever work with them now.

It isn't the only nonsense contained in that DWP press release either, Chris Grayling pipes up:
"This is a radical change to the way we deliver back to work support in this country. For the first time those charities and voluntary sector organisations across the country with the know how to help people with real difficulties in their communities get back to work are being given the chance to do just that. "Millions of people on out of work benefits who have previously been shunted from dole queue to training room to dole queue again will finally be able to access support that's built around their needs"
Having read the documentation and draft contractual terms for the Work Programme, I can honestly say it is virtually identical to Labour's Flexible New Deal; the one where everyone missed their targets and still got paid. Grayling seems to think paying by results is new and that he can just trust the prime contractors to not run rings around it like they did last time. Of course he hasn't actually bothered putting clauses in to prevent them or any automatic triggers for performance reviews or terminations; they are left entirely to the discretion of the DWP which were so easily pushed into handing over more money. Grayling is only getting away with pretending this is new because no mainstream media outlet is really scrutinising this even though the charade is obvious.

Case File finds that further investigation is needed to discover specifically the list of 'almost 300' charities taking part in the Work Programme and if they agreed to be on such a list. The DWP did not check with Citizens Advice first; A4e and other prime contractors could have handed them a huge list and the DWP were fine to be lead around by the nose. The Work Programme is not radical or unique but a copy of Flexible New Deal that learns from none of the mistakes of Labour and makes no attempt at making Welfare to Work providers more accountable.

1 comment:

  1. Emma Harrison who became a Multi Millionaire solely on the abstract misery of benefit claimants