Select Committee on Works and Pensions Minutes of Evidence

Annex A

Letter to Leigh Lewis, Chief Executive, Employment Service from Carolyn Pratley, Deloitte Consulting

  Dear Leigh,

  Thank you for your time on 7 December and the opportunity to discuss Deloitte Consulting's performance in Leeds and Suffolk. At the meeting, you raised some issues regarding Deloitte Consulting's ability to deliver innovation in our two pilot areas and we highlighted some of the barriers to the implementation of innovation. Two important issues were, the flexibility of the timings allowed for client-facing meetings within the ONE process and the approvals route for implementation of innovative approaches. In response to this discussion, we are providing some detail on these two topics.

Fixed Meeting Times

  At our meeting we discussed the issues associated with operating a process based upon uniform allocation of time to all clients. You were concerned that we were placing constraints upon the operation that were not required under the terms of our contract. Our understanding of the contractual environment is described as follows:

  The Leeds contract in particular is very restrictive with respect to varying the length of the meetings that take place within the ONE process. For example, Annex 4 to Schedule 3.1 deals with contingencies in the case of high workload volumes. It states that before consideration is given to reducing the length of the Work Focussed Meeting, we should request that clients travel to less busy offices, extend our opening hours, and suspend work with caseloaded clients. Before we implement any of these contingencies we are required to gain approval from the contract manager and the Pilot Management Group.

  The contracts for both the ONE pilots that Deloitte Consulting operate incorporate the Generic Process design. This is a high level description of the process to be followed by staff in all locations. It runs to approximately 50 pages and includes statements such as "the Initial Work Focussed Meeting . . . is expected to last approximately one hour". It is this document that will be used as the basis for the process conformance reviews that are to be undertaken by the Contract Management Teams in Leeds and Suffolk. The Suffolk Contract Management Team has devised an extensive checklist that they use in carrying out these checks for the reception and start up functions. One of the items covered by this checklist is the time taken to complete the start-up process. We expect that the checklist for the Work Focussed Meeting will also include checks on the time taken.

Approvals Process for Innovation

  The contract structure and the level of detail required within the contract for both the Leeds and Suffolk pilots has also made innovation more difficult. When we have sought to implement innovative approaches we have had to go through a long approvals process. Typically this has taken many months. At our meeting we discussed the Lone Parent Mentoring scheme that we are interested in developing. However, as the Mentoring scheme has not yet been through all stages of the approvals process I have used a different case, that of the Opportunity Centre, to illustrate.

  The Opportunity Centre formed a part of our original bid, but was not scheduled to be implemented until April. This gave us the opportunity to undertake further assessment of the provision already in place and the most effective way in which it could be supplemented. Consequently, the proposal changed from implementation of a centre based in Chapeltown serving the entire ONE community to a city centre facility supporting the needs of refugees and those who are claiming, or have recently ended a claim for, Incapacity Benefit. The approvals process, which was originally targeted on a start date of 3 April 2000 was as follows:
DateAction Taken
November 1999Innovation Centre included as part of bid for Leeds ONE pilot
25 February 2000Proposals for revised approach to Opportunity Centre presented to PMG
7 March 2000Written notification of 19 points of clarification received from Contract Management Team.
7 April 2000Revised approach to Opportunity Centre provision agreed in principle at PMG, with an action point to restructure the proposal for contractual purposes only. It was agreed that this should not prevent go live.
28 April 2000List of supplementary questions received from CMT and notification that the document will be QA'd by both senior managers and PVS strand prior to discussion at PSG.
4 May 2000Final proposal provided by CMT to Hugh Sherry.
12 May 2000Discussed at PSG.
17 May 2000Notified by CMT that risk assessment is required, therefore a new start date is required.
19 May 2000Proposal returned to PMG for further review.
23 May 2000Opportunity Centre begins taking clients.
8 June 2000Notified by CMT that risk assessment was completed on 23 May, therefore contractual variation can be progressed.


  I hope that this information is helpful in clarifying the discussions that we had on 7 December. If you would like further details on these or other matters relating to the operation of our ONE pilots please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Carolyn Pratley

18 December 2000

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