Welfare and Pensions Committee report welcomed by Inclusion and NIACE

20 October 2014

Inclusion has today welcomed the publication of the latest Work and Pensions Committeereport into welfare to work.

The report recognises that the Work Programme has achieved job results for ‘mainstream participants’ at least as good as previous programmes and at a much lower cost. However, as too many claimants remain out of work after completing the programme, particularly those with more complex or multiple barriers to employment, the committee has called on the current system to do better.

The report has recommended a series of changes that will encourage the development of an effective and efficient system by which to deliver a more personalised and intensive method of support to help all claimants’ progress into work. Recommendations include:

• The replacement of the current “complicated and less effective” payments model with a simpler model that has clearer referral points, which directly incentivises providers to invest in supporting those with complex needs, once the current contract expires in 2017.

• The expansion of a separate, specialist employment programme for those with disabilities and health problems.

• The development of a standardised, characteristic-based assessment of claimants’ needs and barriers to work.

• A set guarantee on the standard of support to be provided to each claimant which is fully accountable.

• The integration of employment services with relevant, local services such as health, education, skills and housing.

• The introduction of an ‘Innovation Fund’ by which to test and develop innovative and effective approaches to employment support, alongside a ‘What Works Centre’ which will ensure that policy development is based on robust and practical evidence.

These recommendations echo six of the eight proposals made by Inclusion and NIACE in their submission to the Work and Pensions Committee report into welfare to work, which built upon previous research conducted including Inclusion’s Fit for Purpose Report and the Evaluation of learning, flexibility and local innovation in DWP conducted by Inclusion and Nesta.

Regrettably, Inclusion and NIACE’s call for the sole focus of support to be expanded from employment outcomes to also include participant activation and earnings achieved were not included in the committee report. However, the merged organisation shall continue to press for these reforms in order to unlock their potential benefits and provide a more successful and reliable service.