Select Committee on Work and Pensions Minutes of Evidence


Annex 1

URBAN REGENERATION PROJECTS AND THE INTERMEDIATE LABOUR MARKET

  Intermediate Labour Markets (IMS) aim to provide a stepping stone into sustainable employment by combining paid employment in temporary jobs (typically six months) with training, personal development and job search activities. ILMs can also contribute to job generation and often produce goods/services of benefit to the local community.

  There are a wide variety of local organisations establishing and running ILMs, most of which are involved in regeneration activities. These include voluntary and community organisations, as well as New Deal for Communities (NDC). The use of ILMs is common to most NDCs. They are commonly based upon community enterprises to address local needs and have proved effective in securing sustainable employment and contributing to wider regeneration objectives within the NDC area.

  These organisations access government funding through a number of funding streams, including:

    —  the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB), administered by Regional Development Authorities (RDA), and now the RDA Single Pots;

    —  European Social Fund (ESF), administered by Government Offices: and

    —  the funding streams administered by NDC partnerships.

  New Deal for Young People Options and the New Deal 25+ Intensive Activity Period offer work experience and education and training for unemployed people. There are some parallels with the ILM model, and some organisations running ILMs utilise this synergy to provide placements funded partly through the New Deal, and partly from other sources such as SRB. The New Deal is flexibly structured to allow provision, including ILMs in areas where they operate with New Deal support, to be carefully tailored to local conditions. For example, individuals on New Deal for Young People can opt to spend six months working for the Environment Task Force on a project which may receive funding from SRB.

  East Manchester NDC provides a useful case study illustrating how this can operate on the ground. ILMs play a significant role in East Manchester's drive to reintegrate previously unemployed residents into the labour market. The NDC is also keen to use ILMs to support broader regeneration programmes such as its environmental programme. Their Community and Environmental Employment programme is part of a merged voluntary and community option of New Deal 18-24 and provides 500 places across four Local Authorities with approximately 70 places in East Manchester at any one time. It has also recently been extended to incorporate New Deal 25+. The programme consists of 12 months waged employment, with at least three days work per week, and contributes towards vocational qualifications and personal development (such as learning to drive or swim). Sponsoring employers all undertake work that is of benefit to the community and are accredited by Jobcentre Plus. The NDC have also extended the Community and Environmental Employment programme by going beyond the New Deal programmes and piloting a 15 place scheme to engage the economically inactive. It also intends to pilot a scheme for 16-17 year olds in September 2002.

Co-ordination framework

  To be successful ILMs need to be designed and tailored to place participants into work as quickly as possible they need to be locally led and supported by organisations with understanding of the needs of local employers and the target group. Close working relationships at ground level between employers, Jobcentre Plus and ILM providers, and between those administering the various funding streams, are essential. Much of central Government's focus is therefore on providing and supporting the frameworks necessary for ensuring effective, joined-up working at local and regional level.

Local and Regional level

  RDAs co-ordinate economic development within their region. In July 2001, in response to a more pro-active and joined up approach to employment and skills the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) were asked to lead on the creation of Frameworks for Regional Employment and Skills Action (FRESAs). The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Department for Education and Skills (DfES), and Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) collaborated with the Regional Development Agencies and a number of other key players to publish guidance for the Frameworks for Regional Employment and Skills Action (FRESAs) in January of this year. These aim to provide an analysis of regional labour markets and action plans to address labour market restructuring and redundancies, sector skills shortages, promote inward and indigenous investment to generate a healthy labour market. The key agencies and organisations involved will include Jobcentre Plus, Learning and Skills Councils, Local Authorities, Government Offices, TUC and CBI.

  RDAs also administer SRB funding which was incorporated into the RDA's new Single Programme from 1 April 2002. The SRB provides resources for regeneration initiatives in England which are developed and implemented by local partnerships.

  Local Strategic Partnerships have been established in the 88 local authority districts eligible for Neighbourhood Renewal Funding. Their role is to bring together the key regeneration partners at local level, including Jobcentre Plus, Government Offices, and local business and residents, with a view to ensuring that mainstream services and other initiatives are fully co-ordinated with each other and that they are focused on the key issues facing the district. RDAs have also made a commitment to be represented on LSPs and have a tier two target to work with LSPs to reduce deprivation. Government Offices support the development of LSPs, and assess whether NRF grant conditions have been met and that LSPs are effective and involve genuine community participation. GOs also provide the main communication channels between LSPs and central government.

National level

  LSPs were established as part of the Government's National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. A comprehensive set of cross-departmental working arrangements have been established at national level to drive forward the strategy, and to ensure that regional and local strategies and services are fully joined up. These include:

    —  A regular Permanent Secretaries working group, which co-ordinates and provides strategic oversight of the delivery of the national strategy;

    —  A Performance Management and Local Strategic Partnerships Group consists of senior Whitehall officials to develop a performance management framework for delivery of the strategy;

    —  The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU) itself works closely with other Whitehall departments to encourage them to focus their mainstream services on deprived areas. The main mechanism for this is through encouraging departments to set floor targets, which commit them to raise the standard of the worst performing areas. NRU works closely with DWP on resolving any policy issues relating to the effective delivery of its services. NRU also runs a Skills and Knowledge Programme to ensure that those involved in neighbourhood renewal—including those delivering DWP's services—have the support, skills and knowledge they need to regenerate neighbourhoods.

  DTI are the sponsor department for RDAs, although RDAs' deliver regional targets for a number of different departments. There are, therefore, a number of cross-departmental working groups established to oversee the functioning of the RDAs. These include:

    —  The Central Policy Review Group (CPRG) which is an inter-departmental group (consisting of representatives from DTI, former DTLR, DEFRA, DCMS, and DfES) with a remit to provide a value for money assessment on proposed RDA schemes worth £5 million or over.

    —  The Best Practice Group which is an inter-departmental group (with representatives from DTI, former DTLR, DfES and DEFRA) that provides a project appraisal function on RDA projects through monitoring and evaluation.

  DWP work closely with Departments responsible for regeneration funding streams on the design of New Deals, in order to ensure that the framework provided fits neatly with the rules governing the various funding streams, and the availability of ILMs on the ground. In doing this the DWP also works closely with the employer-led National Employment Panel which provides independent advice to Ministers in a number of Departments on the design, delivery and performance of the UK Government's labour market policies and programmes.

  Departments responsible for competitiveness, skills and employment policy work closely together, to ensure that the strategic direction of these three policy areas align. This collaboration is co-ordinated through a group of senior officials from DTI, DfES, and DWP, reporting to a joint Ministerial group.

  Finally, many ILMs are also classed as Social Enterprises. The DTI has recently established a Social Enterprise Unit with a remit to promote dynamic and sustainable social enterprise. The SEU have worked closely with former DTLR, NRU and DWP as well as the Home Office and Treasury on the development of their strategy, and will be establishing an inter-departmental steering group to oversee the development and implementation of the strategy.



 
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