Memorandum for YMCA England
The YMCA, with its mission to work for young
people, is one of the largest single voluntary sector providers
of support and placements signed up to the Government's New Deal
for the young unemployed.
By mid-2000 the YMCA had already provided help
to at least 2000 New Dealers, either through the Initial Gateway
or on an option placement. YMCA runs schemes across England, in
rural and urban communities. They run pilot schemes designed for
hard cases, through to work and voluntary sector options. No one
YMCA runs their provision in the same way, and because of this
we feel have a great deal of good practice to share and a unique
overview of New Deal as a National scheme.
Last year the Employment Policy Institute produced
an evaluation of New Deal provision in the 29 YMCA centres that
run such schemes. "Going the Extra Mile" was
a major piece of work that evaluated good practice and highlighted
our concerns. This report builds on that piece of work and in
particular looks at the factors that have determined successes
or failures of our New Deal clients and schemes.
Despite confronting some difficulties in delivering
the New Deal those YMCAs that have participated remain committed
to the programme. Many feel their success lies with their ability
to deal with hard to help cases. There are four key areas the
YMCA would encourage the select committee to consider when looking
at success or failure of the programme, especially for hard to
The YMCA is one of the largest youth and community
organisations in Britain and world's largest Christian charities
and has emerged as one of the largest single providers of New
Deal services and placements, having worked with over 2,000 New
Dealers either in the Gateway or on an option.
The reason why YMCAs across England chose to
take on New Deal projects was because they felt that they had
the experience and expertise to do so. We already work with young
unemployed, homeless and hard to help young people and our holistic
approach to personal development has meant we have an excellent
track record in supporting and helping young people.
It is therefore not a surprise that the YMCA
is a key provider of New Deal options for "hard cases".
Mandatory referrals can comprise up to 80 per cent of the YMCA
New Deal client group.
New Deal clients benefit from the YMCAs expertise
in holistic and integrated support
The key to our success in this are a is due
to young people on New Deal benefiting from the other services
that we provide. It is recognised YMCA provision for New Dealers
exceeds contractual responsibilities as provision for all young
people that come into a local YMCA is shaped by our ethos of integrated
support for young people. In one instance New Dealers can receive
services provided at twice the cost of funding received by the
YMCA. Seventy per cent of the YMCA New Deal providers say that
they do not receive enough funding.
Some New Deal clients fail because the cost of
providing New Deal exceeds the funding
For some YMCAs, a related problem arises from
having to deal with mandatory referrals by the Employment Service
of young people with little motivation toward the New Deal. The
later have a higher absentee rate that again means lower than
expected funding for the YMCA despite having made resource and
staff time available.
Moreover, since mandatory referrals are less
likely to complete the New Deal, providing places for them can
resulting the loss of the additional payments made when New Dealers
reach target levels of training. Some YMCAs have responded to
this by becoming more selective about which New Dealers they will
helpa decision taken with reluctance. The majority continue
to take whoever is referred to them. Numbers have dropped but
at least now they are sent clients who are interested in their
option, partly due to the fact they have become more selective
as the paperwork generated for a person that only stays two weeks
is not worth it. It also means they are not taking the hard cases
just to get them "off the books".
Bridgwater YMCA runs EFT2 which is designed
for the hard cases and are paid extra. However, despite the extra
money there are still not enough referrals to allow the YMCA to
undertake the scheme without cost to them. Staff costs exist regardless
of the number of referrals. People are pleased with their work
on EFT2. They provide the right atmosphere by adding a social
element to the programme (a Breakfast Club). Their clients have
multiple disadvantages including mental health problems that most
other organisations could not cope with.
Clients with multiple needs who have a successful
assessment at the start are less likely to be moved around placements
and given to a YMCA as a last resort.
In fact a worrying number of YMCAs have reported
that New Dealers are often given no indication of what an option
entailssometimes creating a gap between expectations and
reality that can lead to difficulty for the option provider.
Experienced organisations like the YMCA would
like to be actively engaged along New Deal Personal Advisors from
the very start of the Gateway period, especially when the young
person has multiple problems. That way all their needs can be
addressed in one go and the correct placement sought and no need
to parachute a client into any option whey they have failed on
others. For some YMCAs this may help resolve some of the issues
about turnover of New Deal Personal Advisors which has meant a
lack of continuity in some areas.
Bristol the hard cases often come in on the
voluntary sector option. They have often been through other schemes
or options prior to going to the YMCA. They feel the voluntary
sector option should not be used as a last resort as for many
they will never get a job with the organisation they are working
Forest YMCA in Walthamstow is contracted as
a specialist access point of those with housing needs. They are
finding that standard access points will not refer young people
with housing needs to them as financially it is more beneficial
to keep the young person on their scheme. Young people come to
them as a last resort, which should not be the case.
However, some New Deal clients succeed because
expert providers have planned for being the last resort.
Watford have shown that when dealing with hard
cases, variety and flexibility is key. They run the Princes Trust
New Deal scheme. The activities base of the scheme means people
are more likely to stay for the full duration of the option, and
hard cases respond well. They feel their role is to be a last
resort. Another YMCA who has done extensive work with hard cases
is Ipswich YMCA. They have been used by flexisave job centre as
the last resort for the employment option where a client is difficult
or will not travel.
Bridgwater also is geared up to be "last
resort" with their EFT2 project.
For most hard cases a good result is not always
getting a job at the end but the skills they have gained and the
"distance they have travelled".
The most important outcome for us as providers
to date has been the success of choice and flexibility when dealing
with hard to help cases. As Watford's programme highlights content
and flexibility have a lot to do with retention and overall success.
Potential partners with existing programmes and
expertise are discouraged.
Many who have not undertaken New Deal programmes
have expressed that they would like to do so but the contracting
process was too difficult or funding was an issue.
When originally bidding for programmes and options,
a common complaint was that it was often hard to obtain clarification
of the rules of the programme from the Employment Service and
that "the goalposts would move" during the bidding process.
Difficulties in contracting also arose where
YMCAs had little time to draw up bids. These bids were often difficult
to price with any accuracy. A major problem in this respect was
that YMCAs tended to be unsure about how many New Dealers would
be referred to them. This remains an issue.
Many feel that the contract process should be
more open and easier. One YMCA tried several times to discuss
with the Employment Service setting up their own contract due
to their main contractor continually being slow on payments. They
were told that this was not possible and later found that they
could, yet the form was 117 pages and takes three months to complete
the process. By this time the forms would have changed again (due
in March 2001) so they have not taken it forward.
Chester YMCA no longer run their Gateway as
they were sub-contracted with the local TEC who pulled out at
the end of the last financial year. There is no indication of
who will take over Gateway. Chester YMCA feel the funding available
does not make it worth them undertaking that function despite
being well placed to do so.
For some YMCAs referrals are so low that they
cannot employ the necessary staff, therefore they have withdrawn
from schemes. Southend YMCA was put off even becoming a sub-contractor
as it would be financially untenable when working with hard cases,
although they still feel they would have a lot to offer New Dealers
through the other services they provide.
Finding ways to involve small organisations,
especially those who have previous experience or provide complementary
services to young people would offer clients more choice and flexibility
over their New Deal and help them succeed.
Success and failure often comes down to addressing
some fundamental skill gaps
YMCAs cited numerous cases of young people who
needed intensive one-to-one help but considered the Gateway too
limited and inflexible to provide this. Although examples of good
practice were highlightedsuch as one YMCA that was providing
a personal counselling service within the Gatewayit was
generally felt that New Deal personal Advisers were not coping
well with young people exhibiting multiple disadvantages.
Hornsey YMCA in North London says the lack of
social skills amongst many of their clients is the first area
that needs addressing. Knowing how their actions affect the rest
of the group is important. To improve timekeeping, they now operate
a 15 minute leeway period, after which the client would be sent
home and not accredited for attending. The basic skills of self-discipline,
punctuality, respect for others and adherence to policy is a big
problem at Hornsey, they have had incidents of stabbing, attacks
and arguments. Without adapting their programme to suit the problems
and needs of their client groups they would not be able to succeed.
Forest YMCA have a number of referrals of clients
who are unable to speak English which makes it very hard for them
to access Gateway in any way useful. It would be good to provide
ESOL Courses to be undertaken before Gateway begins.
Herrington Burn believes the variety of options
on one site (including their non-New Deal activities) and their
ethos of working with young people make them successful. Ipswich
feel the extra support they offer to young people makes up for
where the New Deal's basic assessment doesn't gothey offer
three to four hours rounded assessments with proper CV development.
Herrington Burn has heard that clients will
now be inducted through a two-week programme before they go to
providers. They welcome this as it would be able to identify the
hard cases and direct them appropriately at the start and work
on some of the core skills.
Helping harder cases succeeded through an extended
Those in the highest level of need should be
able to stay on Gateway longer to give them some assistance with
life skillsthey need time to resolve some of the main issues
that stop them getting a job such as housing, family conflict.
It is clear that for a number of reasons, YMCA's
are not getting as many referrals as anticipated when New Deal
bids were submittedin many cases only half the level expected.
Our research suggests some explanations: falling youth unemployment,
a "rationing" of referrals by local New Deal delivery
units, and an effective exclusion of the YMCA and other specialist
voluntary sector providers from participation in the New Deal
by some delivery units. However, referrals do not appear to be
related to unemployment rates in different areas.
Lack of referrals has forced some expert projects
to close or renegotiate contracts hampering successful outcomes
for their clients
Whatever the reason for the drop in referrals,
some YMCAs have had to re-negotiate their contracts in light of
the numbers of referrals they finally received. One respondent
from YMCA Training explained that a three-day outdoor activities
residential course was offered to New Dealers in the Gateway.
This part of their contract, with the aim of confidence building,
had to be dropped, as they did not receive any referrals. This
kind of experience indicates that the speed of the contracting
process can lead to some contracts being set up inappropriately
of both providers and the Employment Service.
In such cases YMCAs who were receiving fewer
referrals than anticipated were frustrated that they were not
able to make the most of their facilities. This frustration was
due not simply to a lack of referrals but more importantly to
a feeling of not being in control of the New Deal delivery process,
which in some areas was being dominated by a few large providers.
Unsuccessful local partnerships mean that the
right referral is not always made
Some YMCAs felt that the Employment Service
retained far too much local control, especially in terms of Gateway
provision. Others complained that in areas where local colleges
or TECs were the power base the latter had too great an influence
on New Deal referrals, effectively "rationing" them
to the detriment of some providers, including the YMCA. In one
area, whereas the local FE college had been sent 176 New Dealers
out of a total number of 245 referrals for the education and training
option, the local YMCA had received just one.
In Watford all Voluntary Sector Option referrals
are automatically channelled to the college that also offers this
option. Their service is very different to that of the YMCA's,
and they often find that New Dealers who drop out of the college
are then directed to the YMCA option half way through for which
the YMCA get paid less. They feel that they are being deliberately
used as a last resort, and young people would benefit if they
were placed in the option best for them to start with. Giving
the young person a better chance of success, and allowing the
YMCA to plan and fund their programme properly.
Due to the diversity both of local delivery
arrangements and YMCA participation in the New Deal, relationships
between YMCAs and the Employment Service vary from good to indifferent.
Many YMCAs have suggested they are constantly undertaking PR with
their local Employment Service to remind them they are there and
able to take referrals.
Ipswich YMCA are a training provider for the
Employment Services Voluntary Sector Option. However, this part
of the option is often forgotten about and the YMCA is tasked
with rushing young people through the training in the last few
weeks of the option. They feel this is neither good for them as
a provider or for the New Deal recipient.
Bristol YMCA are a contractor and they feel
that they are often rationed. They were named at the contracting
stage as a partner but do not feel like one or had the referrals
they expected. Many YMCA's feel they are only used once the main
contractor has filled its places rather than as an option based
on the needs and interests of a New Deal recipient.
Low referrals have meant that services do not
reflect the need of a locality that could determine a successful
As a consequence many YMCAs were concerned that
young people were not receiving the most appropriate help available
in their locality. This concern appeared to be shared by other
specialist voluntary sector providers as well. As a result certain
forms of specialist provision were often missing from the New
Deal, such as certain work options that reflect local demand and
Forest YMCA is part of a consortium which has
been asked by the ES to revert back to providing a workshops programme
for clients rather than their successful one to one job search
support. The change has implications for staffing, as fees for
workshops are much lower. Despite this they are continuing the
one to one service as they feel it was so effective they wish
to extend it to their other clients.
Herrington Burn YMCA has a large number of referrals,
about 15-20 per week, but have capacity for more. They have started
new work options such as catering in response to demand from their
New Deal applicants, but in the 12 months it has been running
they have had no referrals.
Criticism by YMCAs of New Deal contracting and
delivery mechanisms is associated with underlying concerns about
funding. In some cases funding problems have arisen as a result
of YMCAs receiving fewer than expected New Deal referrals, or
receiving them only sporadically. In addition, YMCAs often have
to subsidise the New Deal in order to make it work for the young
people with whom they are working.
YMCAs who submitted New Deal bids on the assumption
of a certain level of referrals, and set up provision accordingly,
have had to cut or adapt planned provision in order to keep within
budget. One YMCA stated that what it was delivering bore little
resemblance to its New Deal contract.
Realistic payments would help sustainability and
It is clear that most YMCAs adapt and enhance
New Deal provision by offering a range of additional services
in order to ensure that young people get the most out of the programme.
This is particularly true for those New Dealers experiencing multiple
problems, for example, drug addiction of homelessness in addition
to unemployment. The "extras" needed to add value to
new Dealers in this way require resources over and above the basic
funding obtained for the programme; YMCAs are thus subsidising
some of their New Deal work.
As a consequence of this cross-subsidy, many
YMCAs find it hard to identify with any precision what it costs
them to deliver the New Deal. Several YMCAs nonetheless estimate
that what they are providing to the New Deal, in terms of extra
services, could cost as much as double the amount that they were
actually being funded for.
Ipswich YMCA is concerned about the levels of
payment for training within the voluntary sector option. Providing
26 days training for £750 is very hard and not commercially
viable. They have also given extra support to young people under
the FTET scheme that counts for more hours than finances cover.
Other YMCAs have paid travel for those on work placements as well
as providing extra support.
Contract and subcontracts cream off funding that
would make the difference
The form in which they are contracted to the
New Deal also affects each YMCA's situation. For example, where
YMCAs are sub-contracted within a New Deal consortium, the lead
partner will take off some of the available funding in return
for providing administration services. Whilst this is a burden
that some YMCAs are happy to relinquish, it does reduce the amount
of funding they actually receive for each New Dealer. Significantly,
none of the YMCAs consulted for the 1999 report were making any
surplus from the New Deal.
When asked in 1999 if they were funded sufficiently,
14 said that they were, but 25two thirds of those participating
in the New Dealsaid that they were not (three did not respond).
This is a somewhat disconcerting finding, especially since the
New Deal is widely recognised as being the best funded programme
of its kind ever to be introduced in Britain. It might of course
be argued that the value added to the New Deal by participating
YMCAs exceeds what is required to ensure quality outcomes for
New Dealers. This was not, however, the impression gained from
the YMCAs consulted for this report who felt that they needed
to inject extra resources in order to meet the multiple needs
of unemployed young people, particularly the most disadvantaged.