Select Committee on Work and Pensions Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Shaw Trust (ES 14)



    —  The contract and funding regime of the Employment Service is putting at risk the success of the programme by appointing contractors with little, or no experience of working with people with disabilities.

    To succeed a provider requires dedicated staff, premises and marketing and NDDP cannot be delivered on the cheap.

    What is needed is a partnership approach between the Department of Works and Pensions and service providers, where the financial risk is shared. The partnership approach should be underpinned by longer-term investment, which allows Job Broking to become established in an area

    At present the ES approach to contracting is that the procurement process is seen as an end in itself, ie obtaining large numbers of cheap contractors is seen as the goal rather than the delivery of the service.

    —  The key issues on the Job Retention and Rehabilitation service are Random Assignment and its impracticability and invalidity. An additional problem is the cost of an invalid approach to evaluation.

    The whole approach to NDDP has been bedeviled by "pilots" and "evaluation" allowing no proper investment by service providers. The deadweight argument is irrelevant for a group who, on average has been without work for more than four years.

    Disabled people appear to be `guinea pigs' in a Treasury led experiment, which undermines the employment programme for those facing the most severe barriers to a return to work.

    —  The major issue is the inadequate funding of the NDDP and the continued absence of any recognition of the economic and social benefits of properly investing in employment programmes for disabled people. This can only be borne out of prejudice and discrimination by Civil Servants and politicians over many years, which has resulted in only one in two disabled people of working age being in employment.

    This discrimination has existed for the past 50 years and resulted in little being done to enforce anti-discriminatory practice, with only six prosecutions in the last 50 years under the old quota system as an example of this.

    —  The Tax Credit System does not properly benefit people on sickness and disability benefits who return to work.

    The Working Tax Credit should be increased for disabled people, in recognition of the higher benefits they receive.

    —  Workstep is an improved programme that has the potential to play a major role in the Welfare to Work agenda.

  Two issues are:

    —  Employment Service procrastination in national implementation of the Pathfinder approach.

    —  Slow progress on implementation of the Civil Service Commissioners' decision to allow Workstep employees to enter the Civil Service, without competition.

    —  Work Preparation is an undervalued programme which provides a no risk option for both employers and disabled people, who wish to try out a job after long periods without work.

    —  There are concerns that the Disablement Employment Adviser specialism may be lost in Job Centre Plus and that Job Centre Plus may fail to recognise the many barriers faced by Disabled People wishing to return to work.

    —  Concern that there is no recognition by the Social Exclusion Unit and the Cabinet Office that disabled people who are economically inactive are the major socially excluded group in Britain.

Ian Charlesworth

Managing Director

9 May 2002

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