Making Work a Real Choice - Where next for specialist disability employment support?
About Shaw Trust 2 Making Work a Real Choice final report Shaw Trust is a leading national charity with a thirty year history of supporting disabled, disadvantaged and long term unemployed people to achieve sustainable employment, independent living and social inclusion. Last year Shaw Trust delivered specialist services to over 50,000 people from 200 locations across the UK, supporting its beneficiaries to enter work and lead independent lives. In 2012 Shaw Trust merged with fellow welfare-to-work charity Careers Development Group (CDG), forming a new entity under the Shaw Trust brand.
Shaw Trust is one of only two voluntary sector prime contractors of the Work Programme, operating in the London East Contract Package Area (as CDG). We further deliver services as a Work Programme subcontractor in seven different CPAs. Our extensive experience in the welfare-to-work sector includes delivery of the Work Programme’s predecessor contracts – New Deal, Pathways to Work and Flexible New Deal – as both a prime contractor and subcontractor. As the main provider of specialist disability employment programme Work Choice we deliver 16 prime contracts, six subcontracts and an additional prime contract through the special purpose vehicle CDG-WISE Ability, providing specialist support for people with disabilities, health problems and impairments across the UK.
Shaw Trust also delivers direct contracts for the Skills Funding Agency, and further operates a range of social enterprises and retail shops generating stepping stone employment opportunities for those furthest from the job market.
3 Making Work a Real Choice final report Contents Foreword Chapter 1 Executive Summary Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 Making Work a Real Choice – Response to Shaw Trust’s Consultation Chapter 4 Identifying the key elements of a future specialist disability employment programme: results of customer and staff focus groups and employer interviews Chapter 5 Conclusions and recommendations: encouraging an evolution in specialist disability employment support Annexes Annex One: ‘What works’ to support disabled people, and those with health conditions, into sustained work? An independent chapter written by Inclusion Annex Two: List of consultation respondents Acknowledgements 4 5-10 11-15 16-31 32-41 42-48 50-59 60 61
4 Making Work a Real Choice final report Forew0rd The findings of our report will play an important role in ensuring more people with disabilities, health problems and impairments can find, enter and sustain meaningful employment. This is the overarching aim of our charity and the reason Shaw Trust was founded. When we launched the Making Work a Real Choice consultation in June, we wanted to galvanise the sector to develop a set of proposals that will help to make a real difference to the lives of those we serve. The response we have had from our peers, partners, employers, customers and the wonderful staff members working in this field has exceeded our highest expectations.
I and the trustees of Shaw Trust would like to thank all of those who contributed.
The government is reviewing its strategy to improve employment prospects of people with disabilities, health conditions and impairments. As part of this review, government will need to consider what comes after Work Choice, the government’s specialist disability employment programme, which comes to an end in 2015. This is the foundation of our report, which sets out our belief that the government can use the best practice from Work Choice to evolve and sculpt an even better specialist employment programme.
The consultation responses, in addition to the in-depth research collected through the staff, customer and employer focus groups and interviews, have given this report a level of intellectual, practical and personal depth that can only serve to support the government’s analysis and thinking on how to provide future employment support to our beneficiaries.
This depth is crucial if we are to successfully use this opportunity to help those with disabilities and impairments overcome the economic and social barriers they face.
We must emphasise that we all have a role to play. Our report highlights the need for more robust evidence to demonstrate ‘what works’ in helping people with disabilities to truly fulfil their potential and enter work. It is down to each and every one of us to share our own examples of ‘what works’ through testing and sharing new ideas and through innovative pilots. It is only by all of us working collaboratively that the most effective personcentred support can be made available to the people we serve.
Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive, Shaw Trust
6 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 1 Executive Summary Shaw Trust is a national charity with a thirtyyear history of supporting people with disabilities, health problems and impairments into sustainable employment. Last year the charity delivered specialist services focused on supporting its beneficiaries to enter work and to lead independent lives to over 50,000 people from 200 locations across the UK. One of the key services Shaw Trust delivers is Work Choice: the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) specialist disability employment programme. Shaw Trust is the largest contracted-out prime contractor for Work Choice in the country, delivering sixteen prime contracts, six subcontracts, and an additional prime contract through the special purpose vehicle CDG-WISE Ability.
Since the commencement of Work Choice delivery in October 2010, Shaw Trust has supported 31,780 people with disabilities, health problems and impairments on their journey into sustainable employment opportunities1 .
As a registered charity dedicated to supporting disabled and disadvantaged people into sustainable work, Shaw Trust has a responsibility to promote and protect the interests of the people it serves. This is why, in June 2013, Shaw Trust launched its ambitious research project ‘Making Work a Real Choice’. The purpose of Making Work a Real Choice is to catalyse a debate about the future provision of specialist disability employment support amongst employability providers, the staff delivering frontline services, employers, stakeholders, and, most importantly, the people who use these services.
The project has taken shape in two stages.
Stage One: Interim report and consultation The interim report, launched in June 2013, asked whether there is a need to retain a separate disability employment programme when the current Work Choice programme comes to an end in 2015. 417 Work Choice delivery staff, stakeholders such as employers and customers participating in Work Choice took part in our initial research. The report concluded there is a demonstrable and clear need to retain this essential source of employability support for people with disabilities, health problems and impairments. 78 per cent of customers responding to our survey stated that they were extremely satisfied with the service they had received on Work Choice, and could not think of any additional support that could have improved their experience of the programme.
A consultation was launched alongside the report to gauge the views of our industry peers and partners on the findings of our initial report, the results of which are detailed in this report. Since the launch of the interim report, one of our recommendations to enhance the support offered by Work Choice has already been addressed by the DWP. From September 2013, Work Choice customers have been able to access funded vocational training from the Skills Funding Agency. Shaw Trust welcomes this service enhancement and believes that is a step in the right direction for creating parity between mainstream and specialist disability employment programmes.2 1 Data taken from DWP’s August 2013 Work Choice statistics release: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/workchoice-official-statistics-august-2013 2 The opening up of Skills Funding Agency delivery to Work Choice customers is outlined in DWP’s provider guidance: http:// www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/work-choice-annex4.pdf
- Shaw Trust commissioned independent labour market research centre Inclusion to conduct a series of focus groups and interviews with 73 staff, customers and employers involved in Work Choice.
- Inclusion has also written an independent chapter found in annex one of this report evaluating the best practice approaches to delivering specialist disability employment support identified in published academic, industry and government reports.
- This evidence base, combined with the results of the 49 consultation responses received from Shaw Trust’s industry peers and partners, has enabled the charity to pinpoint the crucial elements needed to drive a future specialist disability employment programme.
- What our participants told us 1) Enhancing and extending existing Work Choice delivery Overcoming barriers to delivery In the interim Making Work a Real Choice report, Shaw Trust highlighted a number of systemic barriers to the delivery of existing Work Choice contracts. These included:
- the cap on referrals to Work Choice delaying when people with disabilities, health problems and impairments can access the available support.
- a lack of clarity regarding the eligibility criteria for Work Choice and Work Programme – the government’s mainstream back-to-work programme – resulting in inappropriate referrals to both programmes.
- the limited duration of pre-employment support available on Work Choice, at just six months with a possible six month extension. Our consultation respondents and focus group participants reinforced the challenge posed by these systemic barriers. Participants further suggested that the government could use a staged approach to addressing them:
- Barriers that would bring immediate benefits to Work Choice customers, such as clarifying the eligibility criteria for the programme, should be addressed immediately.
However, barriers that had the potential to adversely impact on the quality of Work Choice delivery if removed – such as increasing the number of customers accessing provision by removing the referral cap – should be removed at a later date as part of a future disability employment programme.
8 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 1 Executive Summary Aligning specialist and mainstream support Our consultation respondents felt that as Work Choice is due to end in 2015, it would be prudent to extend the existing Work Choice contracts until after the 2015 election and design a future national specialist disability employment programme in parallel with the successor contract to the Work Programme.
However, respondents emphasised the need for contract procurement to take place at staged intervals to ensure organisations have the resources to bid for each contract, and that a high quality service continues to be delivered by both programmes.2) Key features of a future programme A best practice approach Customers, staff, employers and industry peers and partners all passionately identified existing best practice approaches to delivering specialist disability employment support. Combined with academic evidence from the both the UK and abroad, as highlighted by Inclusion in annex one, Making Work a Real Choice makes a number of evidencebased recommendations regarding the key characteristics any future specialist disability employment programme should have:
- Voluntary participation: The voluntary nature of Work Choice should be maintained to ensure customers can flexibly manage participation alongside their disabilities, health problems and impairments.
- Flexible referrals: A proportion of referrals to a new programme should be generated by providers themselves to extend the reach of the programme to customers with the most complex needs.
- Extending pre-work support: Customers on a future specialist scheme should receive a minimum of 12 months’ personally tailored pre-employment support and should be supported to achieve a number of milestones on their journey back into work, including the achievement of qualifications and undertaking voluntary work.
- Extending in-work support: Once in employment customers should receive support tailored to their level of need for up to two years, and should be encouraged to progress their careers.
Quality control: Finally, to ensure the support delivered is consistently of the highest standard, an independent quality evaluation using feedback from customers and employers should be undertaken at regular intervals.
Engaging employers The employers interviewed highlighted a need for a greater awareness of the existing support available, including that which is provided by Work Choice and Access to Work providers. The government’s Disability Confident campaign is a welcome step in the right direction but more needs to be done. It is the responsibility of the government, providers, industry trade bodies and user-led organisations to actively promote the existing support package to employers. However, if the employment rate of disabled people is to increase, a national ‘culture-changing campaign’ focused on helping employers and wider society see past an individual’s disability – and understand instead their abilities – needs to be undertaken.
Only then will the workplace become fully accessible to people with disabilities, health problems and impairments.
9 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 1 Executive Summary 3) The need for further evidence and piloting The evidence collated from the 539 customers, staff, stakeholders and partners participating in the Making Work a Real Choice research highlights some strong examples of best practice from those involved in provided support. However, the ‘What Works’ chapter written by Inclusion and found in annex one identifies gaps in our knowledge of the most effective approaches of delivering specialist disability employment support.
In particular, there is a lack of national and scalable evidence to show what works in supporting people with different types of disability.
Only through providers, employers, trade bodies and user-led groups collaborating with service users to design, implement and share the findings of their pilots or new innovative approaches will we be able to fill the gaps in the evidence base, and deliver the most effective and highest quality support to people with disabilities, health problems and impairments. Recommendations: 1. The eligibility criteria identifying which individuals are most suited to Work Choice and the Work Programme should be immediately clarified. 2. DWP should tackle the systemic barriers to delivery in the design of future specialist disability employment.
3. Work Choice contracts should be extended to enable a new specialist disability employment programme to be designed in parallel with the successor contract to the Work Programme. 4. A new specialist disability employment programme should remain voluntary in nature. To expand the reach of the programme to ensure those with the most complex needs are able to access provision, the referral routes to the programme should also be opened up. 5. A triage assessment tool needs to be introduced for Jobcentre Plus staff to holistically assess the needs of customers with disabilities, health problems and impairments.
6. A new specialist disability employment programme should offer pre-employment support for a longer period of time.
10 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 1 Executive Summary 7. A new specialist disability employment programme should adopt an innovative new payment structure that financially rewards providers for supporting customers to achieve progression milestones. 8. An independent external quality inspection should be introduced to evaluate the quality of any future specialist disability employment programme. 9. A national marketing campaign advertising the support available to employers wanting to employ people with disabilities, health problems and impairments should be progressed. 10.A culture-changing campaign aimed at challenging employers’ attitudes (and those of wider society) towards employing people with disabilities, health problems and impairments should be introduced.
11.DWP should rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of the delivery methods used in any new specialist disability employment programme, so it can clearly identify ‘what works for whom’ and commission future programmes based on this evidence. 12.Shaw Trust will commit to expanding the ‘what works’ evidence base by piloting, evaluating and sharing the results from the delivery of innovative pilots publicly.
Chapter 2 Introduction
12 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 2 Introduction The employment rate of people with disabilities, health problems and impairments in the UK is unacceptably low.
Just 46 per cent of working age people with disabilities are in employment, compared to 76 per cent of non-disabled adults.3 As a charity dedicated to supporting disadvantaged and disabled people at to enter sustained work and live independent lives, Shaw Trust has a responsibility to its beneficiaries to review what more it and wider society can do to support those it serves. In addition, as the largest prime provider of DWP’s specialist disability employment programme, Work Choice, the charity is delivering the main employment programme aimed at supporting people with disabilities, health problems and impairments into sustainable employment.
This is why in June 2013 Shaw Trust launched its interim report and consultation, ‘Making Work a Real Choice’. The purpose of this initial report was to use the evidence-based research the charity collected through interviews, focus groups and surveys of 417 Work Choice delivery staff, customers participating in Work Choice, and industry and employer stakeholders to set out the case for retaining a specialist disability employment programme post-2015. A secondary aim of the report was to challenge the silence across the welfare to work industry and in policy circles on the future of specialist disability employment support.
As such, Shaw Trust aimed to catalyse the debate regarding what a future specialist disability employment programme should look like by launching an open consultation alongside the interim report. Since the launch of the interim Making Work a Real Choice report, the debate surrounding the future of specialist disability employment support has been unequivocally galvanised. New reports have been launched by the British Association of Supported Employment (BASE)4 , the Disability Charities Consortium5 and Disability Rights UK 6 outlining their vision for the future of specialist disability employment support.
In addition, the second independent evaluation of Work Choice has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions. The evaluation also supports the evidence presented in Making Work a Real Choice that there is a “definite need” for a separate specialist disability employment programme to exist alongside mainstream back-to-work provision.7 Finally, Shaw Trust itself received 49 responses from industry peers and partners to its Making Work a Real Choice consultation, outlining their views on the direction of current and future disability employment support. A full list of respondents can be found in annex two.
3 Department for Work and Pensions (2013), Fulfilling Potential. Making it Happen pg 39 4 BASE (August 2013), Submission to the Government Review of Disability Employment Strategy 5 Trotter, R (July 2013), Work in Progress: Rethinking employment support for disabled people 6 Crowther, N and Sayce, L (October 2013), Taking Control of Employment Support, Disability Rights UK 7 Purvis et al (July, 2013), Evaluation of the Work Choice Specialist Disability Employment ProgrammeFindings from the 2011 Early Implementation and 2012 Steady State Waves of the research, pg 21
- the 49 responses submitted to the charity’s consultation
- the results of three Work Choice customer focus groups and three Shaw Trust staff and supply chain partner focus groups
- 17 in-depth employer interviews conducted independently on behalf of Shaw Trust by Inclusion, and
- an independent academic review of national and international best practice, conducted by Inclusion and published in Annex One as part of this report. Identifying ‘what works’ The qualitative research collected through the research process, alongside Inclusion’s independent review, has enabled Shaw Trust to add to the evidence base detailing ‘what works’ in supporting people with disabilities, health problems and impairments into sustained work. However, the independent literature review outlines a number of areas where more robust research is required to demonstrate ‘what works’ in supporting people with disabilities, health problems and impairments into work. Without this evidence, government policy makers and providers will struggle to design and deliver employability programmes for people with disabilities, health problems and impairments driven by evidence-based best practice.
This is why an additional aim of this final report is not only to identify what key elements should underpin a new specialist disability employment programme, but to also provide a challenge to ourselves and our industry peers and partners – representative bodies and disabled people’s user-led organisations – as well as to DWP, to pilot, evaluate and share delivery best practice across the welfare to work industry. To demonstrate its commitment to sharing its best practice widely, Shaw Trust will be evaluating its own pilot, ‘Bridging the Gap’, and publishing the results of this pilot publicly in 2014.
Although competition between providers has had positive effects, by working together to establish and use the most effective, personalised approaches more working-age disabled adults will be able to enter and sustain meaningful employment.
- Module One focuses on helping people to prepare for, search for and secure employment. Lasting six months in duration, with a possible six-month extension, providers offer customers tailored CV development support, support to improve confidence and motivation and employability support such as interview preparation as well as a range of specialist support to tackle customers’ health related and non-health related barriers to work.
- Module Two offers customers who have entered work, and their employers, shortto-medium term in-work support for a minimum of eight hours a month, for up to two years.
Module Three offers customers with more complex needs a longer duration of in-work support for a minimum of four hours a month. Module Three is focused on customers in supported employment and is aimed at helping these customers to transition into unsupported employment in the open labour market. As part of Work Choice, the government has provided funding for over 2,400 supported business places.8 The aim of Work Choice is to move customers into supported or unsupported employment. A job start payment is achieved when customers have entered employment which lasts for 16 or more hours a week.
Providers can also claim a sustainment payment for customers in unsupported employment who have sustained work for 26 out of thirty weeks. Data published in August 2013 shows that to date9 , 31 per cent of customers participating in Work Choice have secured employment.
8 Sayce, L (2011), Getting in, staying in and getting on: Disability employment support fit for the future, Department for Work and Pensions, pg 72 9 Data taken from DWP’s August 2013 Work Choice statistics release: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/workchoice-official-statistics-august-2013
15 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 2 Bridging the Gap Case Study Michael Kestin As a charity committed to supporting people with disabilities into sustained employment, Shaw Trust is reinvesting a proportion of the received funding on Work Choice into the charity’s ‘Bridging the Gap’ pilot.
The pilot creates new job opportunities for Work Choice customers by making available a ‘New Opportunities Grant’ grant of up to £2,500 to incentivise local employers to give a Work Choice customer a job for at least six months. Shaw Trust has been operating the pilot since March 2013, and has considerable success, with 802 customers such as Michael Kestin (below) securing employment through the scheme.
28 year old Michael Kestin from Cross Hands, Llanelli sustained a brain injury in September 2006, and had struggled to find employment since. Michael was referred to Shaw Trust in November 2012 by his disability employment advisor (DEA) based in the Llanelli JobCentre Plus (JCP). Guided by Shaw Trust, Michael was given invaluable support by the charity. Staff at the charity’s Llanelli centre helped Michael to boost his confidence, search for employment and improve his prospects, leading to Michael securing employment.
Shaw Trust staff liaised with local employer, Merlin Medieval Closet – a family-run business specialising in the sale of medieval costumes - guiding Michael into work as an admin assistant.
With the help of Bridging the Gap Michael was supported into the 16 hour a week role. The importance of the role played by Bridging the Gap in helping Michael to realise his potential cannot be underplayed. Michael’s employers reiterate this, with David of Merlin Medieval Closet, saying: “As a small family business we would not have been able to offer this opportunity to Michael without the support and funding offered by the Bridging the Gap initiative.
We would definitely recommend Shaw Trust to other employers. The support we have received from the charity has been great. It has helped us to create a good job opportunity for Michael, and we will be able to expand the business and hopefully we will be able to sustain the post at the end of the funding period.” Michael also spoke of his delight at being employed. He said: “I felt frustrated that I was unable to secure unemployment and this had a knock-on effect on my self-confidence, leaving me feeling really demotivated.
The support and encouragement I have since received from Work Choice and my employer has helped me to address many of my concerns and has increased my confidence considerably.
I would recommend Work Choice to others. The support and encouragement I have received has been invaluable. I had tried for years to secure employment without success. Work Choice helped me to look at new approaches and avenues to get me back to work.”
Chapter 3 Making Work a Real Choice: response to Shaw Trust’s Consultation
- four local authorities such as Peterborough City Council
- six supported businesses10 such as MTIB and Clarity
- two Residential Training Colleges (RTCs)- St Loye’s Foundation and Queen Elizabeth Foundation
- one Work Choice prime contractorIngeus, and
- a range of end-to-end and specialist subcontractors involved in Work Choice delivery with a number of prime contractors. This includes user led organisations such as The Action Group, specialist disability charities like Neurosupport and community focused organisations like Craigowl Communities.
Shaw Trust also received some anonymous submissions to the consultation. A full list of respondents can be found in annex two. Employers and Work Choice customers were consulted separately via focus groups and indepth interviews, the findings of which can be found in Chapter Four. The received responses were overwhelmingly positive about the role Work Choice and other specialist disability employment programmes play in supporting people with health problems, disabilities and impairments into sustainable employment. The responses additionally outlined a number of pragmatic approaches to enhancing current Work Choice delivery, as well as suggestions to shape a future specialist disability employment programme.
a) ‘Should a specialist disability employment programme be maintained post-2015? If so, should the government design a new programme or introduce an enhanced version of Work Choice?’ Although Shaw Trust’s evidence-based research in the interim report demonstrated a clear need to retain a separate specialist disability employment programme, Shaw Trust wanted to test this assertion more widely through public consultation. On the whole, respondents were passionate about the need to retain a specialist disability employment programme, with 48 out of the 49 respondents stating that a specialist disability employment programme should be maintained post-2015.
This future programme should remain separate from any mainstream back-towork programme.
In addition, respondents believed that any future programme should remain distinct and separate from mainstream provision through, for example, the Work Programme. 10 Supported Businesses are defined in the DWP Evaluation of Work Choice as: “A business established within a current or legacy provider organisation to employ disabled people. Public Contract Regulations (2006) defined a supported business as a service where more than 50 per cent of the workers are disabled persons who by the nature or severity of their disability are unable to take up work in the open labour market.” Purvis et al (July, 2013), Evaluation of the Work Choice Specialist Disability Employment ProgrammeFindings from the 2011 Early Implementation and 2012 Steady State Waves of the research, pg 15
- The extension of Module One to at least twelve months in duration with a six-month extension. Some respondents also thought customers should receive pre-employment support for two years, as is the case for the government’s mainstream employability programme, the Work Programme.
- Greater flexibility in contract delivery, for example tailoring the amount of in-work support to a customer’s needs, rather than prescribing eight hours a month for each Module Two customer.
- Introducing a payment mechanism focused on distance-travelled measures involving a “celebration of outcomes other than employment”, both pre-employment and for those customers in work.
- An automated job outcome claims verification process similar to the Work Programme to reduce the amount of time spent on paperwork.
11 Purvis et al (July, 2013), Evaluation of the Work Choice Specialist Disability Employment ProgrammeFindings from the 2011 Early Implementation and 2012 Steady State Waves of the research, pg 21
19 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 3 A third of respondents declaring a desire for a future enhanced version of Work Choice stated these enhancements should be made to the existing Work Choice contracts, which should then be extended. The remaining respondents held a mixture of views regarding what a future specialist disability employment programme should look like. Some respondents stated that a completely new specialist disability employment programme should be created. Alternatively, four respondents stated that in addition to Work Choice, a new programme should be introduced to engage customers with the most complex needs.
This group of respondents stated that although Work Choice had been successful for customers with moderate health needs, more support was needed for those with the most severe mental health problems: “Those with more significant health barriers will require a more specialist provision, therefore a ‘Work Choice plus’ option with more resources would be worth considering.” Finally, the two RTCs submitting evidence to the consultation suggested that an alternative provision was not needed for those with the most complex needs. Rather, customers with the most complex needs could be referred to the intensive residential support offered by the RTCs.
The RTCs also added that Jobcentre Plus should develop a framework of employment support for people with disabilities to access, with clear eligibility criteria defined for each employment support programme. This framework should consist of the support offered by the Work Programme, Work Choice, RTCs and any local provision.
This alternative view echoes the findings of the recent Independent Advisory Panel review of Residential Training College provision, which recommended that DWP should review its referral criteria to all specialist disability employment provision to ensure each customer is referred to the right provision at the right time. 12 A consolidation and mapping of existing programmes to make the most effective use of existing resources could prevent duplication of delivery, and provide a more cost-effective future for specialist disability employment support.
Overall, the majority of respondents agreed that a specialist disability employment programme should be maintained, and that a future programme should take the form of an enhanced version of Work Choice.
b) ‘Should the government procure a new specialist disability employment programme jointly alongside the commissioning of the successor contract to the Work Programme?’ In the interim Making Work a Real Choice report, Shaw Trust recommended that DWP should extend the current Work Choice contracts and procure a new specialist disability employment programme alongside the successor contract to the Work Programme.
This parallel procurement would enable DWP to make consistent policy decisions regarding the complementary provision that customers on both contracts could access, such as existing Skills Funding Agency provision, and would facilitate join-up between mainstream and specialist employment support. 12 Department for Work and Pensions (July 2013), Residential Training Provision, Independent Advisory Panel report, pg 10
20 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 3 Contractual join-up could address some of the delivery challenges identified in Shaw Trust’s interim report, such as clarifying the eligibility criteria to Work Programme and Work Choice.
As DWP has declared in its recentlypublished Commissioning Strategy document that a successor contract to Work Choice will be procured13 , it is imperative that the timing of any future procurement exercise enables the most effective programme possible to be designed and delivered.Consultation respondents demonstrated a mix of views on when a future programme should be procured:
- Fifty per cent of respondents supported Shaw Trust’s view that a new programme should be designed in parallel to the reprocurement of the Work Programme. Respondents in favour of parallel programme design believed it would enable DWP to:
- set clear eligibility criteria for each programme
- develop a streamlined and easy-to-use mechanism to cross-refer between both programmes
- design and implement a holistic assessment tool to ensure the right customer is referred to the right programme at the right time, and
- ensure changes to the welfare system – such as how a job outcome is defined and evidenced under Universal Credit – are consistently factored into the design of both future programmes.
It is worth noting that many of the respondents in favour of parallel procurement highlighted the considerable strain the simultaneous procurement of two new programmes would place on bidding resources. In particular, organisations would struggle to access the capital needed to bid for two separate sets of contracts and to invest in the bid writing and partnership staffing resources needed to secure new prime and subcontracts. Procuring both contracts at exactly the same time could therefore exclude smaller organisations – and indeed many prime contractors – from bidding for either contract.
Therefore, although both contracts should be designed in tandem, a staged procurement process, with separate bidding rounds with an appropriate time period separating them is advisable.
Furthermore, Shaw Trust supports the official Work Choice Evaluation’s call for DWP to learn the lessons from the previous procurement of Work Choice.14 Work Choice was procured in late 2009, however due to the 2010 general election the contracts could not be awarded until after the election. 13 Department for Work and Pensions (July 2013), Commissioning Strategy 2013: Consultation, page 8 14 Purvis et al (July, 2013), Evaluation of the Work Choice Specialist Disability Employment ProgrammeFindings from the 2011 Early Implementation and 2012 Steady State Waves of the research, pg 150 “We would argue that the successors to Work Choice and the Work Programme should be – at the very least – designed alongside one another to maximise clarity on the purpose and eligibility for each programme.
It would follow that commissioning of each should happen at the same time, for the same programme duration, to give referral agencies a clear choice.”
- 21 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 3 This squeezed the implementation timeframe for Work Choice from six to three months.15 With a general election due in 2015, Shaw Trust urges DWP and all political parties to consider the impact of the election on the procurement timescales for a specialist disability employment programme, and indeed any future contracts.
- 38 per cent of respondents did not want Work Choice and Work Programme to be jointly procured. These respondents were concerned that joint procurement would lead to Work Choice being merged into the Work Programme and that the Work Choice contract package areas would be expanded in scale, further rendering it difficult for smaller providers to compete for support. There were also concerns that parallel procurement could affect the unique identity of Work Choice: “Any future joint procurement alongside the successor contract to the Work Programme would diminish the separate identity of a specialist disability employment programme.”
- The remaining 12 per cent of respondents were undecided about how and when a new contract should be procured. In summary, the largest group of respondents emphasised that the successor programmes to both Work Programme and Work Choice should be designed in parallel. This joint design would enable consistent policy decisions to be made to benefit both programmes, and would enable clear eligibility criteria for both to be developed. An integrated programme design would require the current Work Choice contracts to be extended. However, there is a degree of hesitancy over the parallel procurement of both programmes due to the resourcing pressures a simultaneous bidding round would place on providers. Therefore a joint design process, but a separate and staged procurement process, is recommended. c) ‘If a new specialist disability employment programme is to be introduced, what funding structure should this programme have?’ Throughout Shaw Trust’s Making Work a Real Choice research there has been an acknowledgement by staff directly delivering Work Choice services that if people with the most complex needs are to be supported into employment, an alternative contract funding structure is needed. In particular, many staff have conveyed a desire to move away from a funding structure that purely incentivises the achievement of job starts and sustained job outcomes.
Instead, many would like to see the achievement of milestone outcomes such as participation in voluntary work rewarded in addition to job outcome payments, to ensure those furthest from the labour market will be genuinely engaged in programme delivery. Simultaneously, with the Work and Pensions Select Committee recognising that the Work Programme has not delivered the best outcomes possible for customers with health problems to date, now is the time to question how to get the best value out of payments by results contracting for people with disabilities, health problems and impairments.16 15 Purvis et al (July 2013), ibid 16 Work and Pensions Select Committee (May 203), Can the Work Programme Work for all User Groups? First Report of Session 2013- 2014, House of Commons, pg 5
- 13 per cent of respondents stated that a future specialist disability employment programme should be funded entirely by a service fee in recognition of the complexity of the needs of Work Choice customers. A service fee supported contract would enable providers to invest in the staffing resources and specialist support needed to support people with disabilities, health problems and impairments into work.
- 22 per cent of respondents stated that they thought the current funding structure worked well. Currently, 70 per cent of Work Choice funding is delivered through a service fee. The remaining 30 per cent can be achieved by supporting customers into supported or unsupported work, and also by sustaining customers in unsupported employment.
- 48 per cent of respondents stated that the funding structure should be revised. In particular, respondents were in favour of keeping a larger service fee relative to other DWP programmes. However, respondents also outlined a number of innovative ideas regarding how some of the service could be re-allocated to different milestones throughout the contract delivery. Respondents wanted to see a range of distance-travelled payment milestones – personalised to the needs of each individual – introduced to financially recognise the achievements that customers who may need more time to achieve full time work make. In particular, respondents emphasised that undertaking a qualification, attending a centre regularly, or undertaking voluntary work were major successes for some Work Choice customers, and this should be recognised financially. Respondents also wanted distance-travelled milestones recognised for customers in work. Suggestions included receiving funding at different job entry and sustainment milestones, for example, payments at job entry, 13 weeks of employment, 26 weeks of employment and 52 weeks of sustained work, as well as acknowledging that some customers may need to work in part time positions for less than 16 hours a week, due to the nature of their health condition. The reforms to the benefit tapers and earnings introduced through Universal Credit could result in it being considerably easier to reward milestones for increasing the number of hours an individual works. The DWP ESF Troubled Families contract was cited as an area where a milestone type payment approach had been used, and it was suggested that best practice could be drawn from this programme. “In addition to rewarding job outcomes, the achievement of milestones on the journey towards employability should be recognised financially in order to prevent those with the highest support needs being ‘parked’ on benefits.”
- The remainder of the respondents had a mix of views on how a future contract should be funded. These included asking employers to match fund delivery, using differential payments to incentivise working with customers with the most complex needs. Although there was no clear consensus on what funding structure a future programme should have, the innovative ways identified of funding a future programme through distance travelled milestone payments should warrant further exploration by DWP.
23 Making Work a Real Choice final report Chapter 3 Figure One d) ‘Should the systemic barriers affecting Work Choice delivery, such as the cap on Work Choice referrals, be removed at this stage of the contracting cycle or during the procurement of any future contract?’ Shaw Trust identified a number of systemic barriers that impacted on the delivery of Work Choice in the charity’s Making Work a Real Choice report. Factors such as the referral cap and the lack of clear eligibility criteria between Work Choice and Work Programme were cited by the staff, customers and stakeholders participating in the research as barriers to supporting people with disabilities, health problems and impairments entering sustained employment.
Our initial report also identified the lack of access to Skills Funding Agency provision as a barrier. However, DWP removed this barrier in late September 2013. Respondents to our consultation agreed that the challenges identified in the initial report needed to be tackled. Respondents also identified an additional systemic barrier: the claims and verification process for job entries and job outcomes on Work Choice. The current process involves Work Choice delivery staff collecting and collating significant volumes of paperwork, which employers also need to sign, to demonstrate a job outcome is genuine.
Although all providers acknowledge the need for robust evidence to exist, respondents outlined how an automated system using an off-benefits check, as in Work Programme, could cut bureaucracy, would save providers and employers time, consequently freeing up staff resources to provide more support to customers. This would also utilise DWP best practice in other programmes such as the Work Programme.
Again, there was a diversity of views regarding when and how each barrier identified should be removed. The timings and rationale for the removal of each barrier are outlined in Figure One below. Barrier Timescales for removal The referral cap: Referrals to Work Choice are currently capped each month. Shaw Trust’s research has highlighted that customers have had to wait up to six months to access provision due to the cap. Additionally, specialist providers responding to the consultation stated that the cap has contributed to their reduced delivery volumes.
There was consensus across respondents’ submissions that the referral cap needs to be removed.
In particular, respondents were interested in a future model where customers could self-refer to provision, or where it was compulsory for a proportion of referrals to be recruited by providers voluntarily. However, respondents were concerned that if the cap was lifted immediately they would not have the staffing capacity to increase in the rise in referral volumes. Therefore, respondents suggested the cap should be lifted as part of a new contract, so new delivery models can be developed to address this change. Eligibility criteria: There is a lack of clarity regarding the eligibility criteria for Work Choice and the Work Programme.
Respondents suggested that this barrier could be addressed immediately through the training of Jobcentre Plus staff. The RTCs highlighted that they should also be included in any clarification of the criteria to access specialist disability employment support. The cross-referral mechanisms between programmes could also be strengthened and clarified at this point.