- City Building is a company wholly owned by Glasgow
Council. It is the fourth largest construction company in the
country, the largest by number of employees. It pays the council
between £3-£6 million "profit" a year. RSBI
is a former blind workshop that now offers supported employment;
it is part of City Building and gets a large proportion of its
business from them. However only 22% of its profit comes from
contracts with Glasgow Council. It receives money from WORKSTEP
but no grants or other subsidies.
- RSBi used to mainly manufacture windows, but
once Glasgow Council had replaced most of its existing window
stock in 2002 the work slowed. RSBi then moved into furniture
and kitchens, originally it just assembled the kitchens, but it
then realised that it was much cheaper to make them. It is now
moving into building the timber frames that are needed to build
new houses. RSBi are always looking for new opportunities. It
is paid by the council to store furniture and personal effects,
it is looking into storing paperwork. It is also looking at making
conference and bathroom furniture.
- City Building has 500 apprentices. 98% of its
apprentices complete their apprenticeship (50-60% is the industry
standard). This is despite the fact they are often "very
hard to help". It attributes the good retention rate to the
wide range of help apprentices are given. City Building meets
with parents before the apprenticeship starts; it also offers
help with diet, health and so on. It intervenes very early if
it sees any problems with attendance or punctuality.
- RSBi employs blind people, people with other
disabilities and people with none. When RSBi wants to move into
a new area (e.g. upholstery) it needs to hire skilled craftsmen
who may be neither disabled or disadvantaged. These craftsmen
will then train up others who are.
- RSBi sees itselfs as a business not a training
course. It will help staff to move on if they want to, but its
terms and conditions are so good that staff don't want to find
another job. Staff work 37.5 hour weeks, with extra payments for
working nights when the factory is busy. They have a training
suite and staff can undertake training courses in work time. Courses
include literacy and numeracy and languages, as well as guitar
playing and local history.
- Local authorities are permitted not take the
cheapest tender if there is a social benefit. RSBi believes much
more use could be made of this. City Building gained one contract
after agreeing to create 30 jobs for the hard to help. However,
at the same time, supported workshops need to be proactive. RSBI
was saved from closure in part after it won a contract to make
furniture for asylum seekers. However, it was RSBI that identified
this as something that it could do, and it approached the council
with a business case. RSBi explained that the council could save
the money that it was using to subsidise the workshop by giving
it contracts instead. RSBi is talking to the Ministry of Defence
about their housing stock. Gaining Ministry of Defence contracts
would allow it to hire more veterans.
- Glasgow Works (GW) is the name of the City Strategy
in Glasgow. It has worked to bring agencies and private companies
across Glasgow together with a focus on improving the employability
of people in the city. Employment is now included in all social
services "care assessments" and in contracts for contracted
social work. GW also worked with schools to identify potential
future NEETs (Not in Education Employment or Training). GW is
focused on the particularly hard to help.
- GW had received £17.5 million in DWP funding,
and had also received funding from other sources, such as the
Fairer Scotland Fund.
- GW's target was 3,000 job outcomes; it had achieved
2,750. Representatives told us that it had aimed for 20% job outcomes
(based on the success rate of the Community Development Fund),
and it was getting 9-14% after six quarters. It hoped that this
would improve as some customers took a long time to help. GW have
15,000 active customers. Another 3,000 had started and then dropped
out. All customers were volunteers. Other programmes (such as
NDDP) had had better job outcomes but reached fewer people. 15,000
customers represented a large proportion of the hard to help in
- GW offered payments for many more stages than
DWP programmes (which tend to offer payments for finding someone
a job, and then maintaining it for 13 and 26 weeks). Payments
were made for doing initial work with a customer, early work progression,
later work progression, moving someone into training/therapeutic
help (if that was best for the customer), as well as the 3 DWP
stages, plus a later payment for in-work progression.
- This payment structure allowed providers to claim
for work with those very far from the labour market. GW encouraged
providers to work with the very hard to help and felt that it
had been successful. Its average IB claimant took 200 days to
get into work.
- GW worked with 5 providers who were established
in the area. They also worked with trusted organisations such
as Rangers and Celtic Football Clubs.
- GW told us that there had been problems of overlap
with the nationally contracted Pathways to Work. However these
had all been resolved, GW now dealt with the hardest to help.
There had not been problems with other nationally contracted programmes.
- GW told us it was actually easier to find people
jobs in the private sector than the public. Many public sector
organizations set unnecessarily high qualifications. The reasons
for this were unclear. An NHS representative pointed out that
in the NHS many qualifications requirements are set by external
bodies. It was also suggested that public bodies are often keen
to encourage the employment of disabled people by others, but
not to employ them themselves.
- Representatives of GW said that they were seeing
more money going to fewer organizations and that specialist contractors
were missing out. GW had encouraged prime contractors to work
with subcontractors. In their contracts with GW, prime contractors
had agreed to spend a certain amount of money on helping subcontractors
to participate. Prime Contractors had held workshops and meetings.
GW felt that this had not worked; not enough work had been subcontracted.
It did not know why this had happened, although it was determined
to find out. It thought the money had all been spent as agreed.
GW's prime contractors were all social enterprises and the contracts
were awarded on the basis of developing the supply chain. However
subcontractors did find it more difficult to tender than to apply
for grants. Prime contractors had told GW that subcontractors
did not understand clients, that they did not have auditable records
and that they did not want to move to outfunding (in later meetings
subcontractors denied all this). However GW felt all these issues
were solvable; prime contractors just needed to spend the time
and money to overcome them. Prime contractors could help with
the paperwork for smaller organisations; they just needed to make
the commitment. Representatives of Jobcentre Plus said they had
also held meetings for sub-contractors but few had turned up.
- Some prime contractors we spoke to were critical
of GW. They said that the plans for the City Strategy were drawn
up without talking to prime contractors. As a result the plans
were what the public bodies thought needed doing, rather than
what actually needed doing.
- Prime contractors denied that GW was focused
on the "hardest to help". They said that GW was competing
with nationally commissioned programmes for customers. Some of
the help they offered was very similar to NDDP. Prime contractors
also said that these problems seemed unique to GW, they were not
found in other City Strategies. They also told us that there was
a "shortage" of lone parent customers. NDLP had reached
a very good proportion of potential customers in Glasgow, far
more than in other cities. Prime contractors thought that GW was
paying to duplicate national provision. However they accepted
that GW had been more effective at reaching IB customers than
national programmes. IB customers were hard to reach as historically
they had not been encouraged to have contact with services. They
said that very few customers were referred by prime contractors
- Prime contractors told us that GW's job outcomes
were not good. Prime contractors said they were getting 60% job
outcomes (GW told us they get 9-14% and have a target of 20%).
- One prime contractor told us that fraud was driven
by targets. However several prime contractors told us that it
occurred when provider staff knew that a customer was in work
but were not able to obtain all the proof DWP needed. In some
cases employers had refused to complete paperwork. Provider staff
had become frustrated and falsified the paperwork. Prime contractors
believed that this did not excuse such behaviour, but noted that
DWP was not paying for work that had not been done. It was suggested
that there should be lighter penalties in cases such as this where
the fraud was not for financial gain.
- Prime contractors stressed that there were costs
to being involved in DWP and GW contracts which small contractors
could not bear. One prime contractor told us that it had had to
spend £100,000 to meet FND IT security standards. It had
also had to spend £30,000 on IT consultants in the last 6
months. This had not been budgeted for because it had not anticipated
the problem. Another prime contractors said that research done
for GW had suggested that a large number of IB customers were
already in contact with possible subcontractors who would be ideally
placed to help them. This prime contractor thought the research
was flawed as it was based on a small and biased sample. One third
of people asked said they wanted to work, however many of these
had barriers which made it impossible, including severe mental
- Some subcontractors we met told us that there
was a shortage of customers in Glasgow. They would start working
with a customer and then submit the paperwork only to find that
the customer was already registered with another provider. They
then did not get paid for work which had been completed. This
was a recurrent problem. While a customer could change provider,
this was an administrative burden and took two months. We were
told that providers did not refer customers to each other, even
though there must be cases where this was in the customer's best
interest as there were no financial incentives for subcontractors
to refer customers to other providers.
- We heard that providers with GW were only paid
for one stage when a customer started the next one. Sometimes
the next stage was with a different provider, and the customer
did not wish to move on. In this case the provider did not get
- Subcontractors complained that there was no up-front
money from GW. One had had to fund the programme for three months
before they got paid. It took time to get up to speed, to get
the numbers of customers needed, and then to get them to a stage
where they received outcome payments. Payments were quarterly
and in arrears. There was no up-front money for administration
or other costs.
- At the meeting subcontractors realised that some
were being paid significantly less than others for seemingly the
- Subcontractors felt that money was affecting
the decisions that they were making about helping people. Some
were worried about the focus on getting people into work when
their organization believed that low paid jobs were not in the
customer's interest. One organization which provided help for
the severely disabled had been asked to help able bodied people
find work. It didn't know why it had been asked to do something
it knew nothing about.
- Some subcontractors felt that customers were
not made aware of the consequences of their actions. A customer
signing up with a GW prime contractor would lose the rights to
their NDLP adviser. They also lost their rights certain elements
of NDLP such as benefit roll-overs.
- Some subcontractors we met were paid by results,
others were paid for each client they saw (mainly giving specialist
debt or legal advice to customers whose main source of support
was from another provider)
- There was a discussion about helping the severely
disabled into work. It was felt that the high level of benefits
they receive, particularly the Independent Living Fund; makes
this difficult. Subcontractors felt that specialist support was
required, but that often it was the benefits not the disability
which was the main problem. It was felt that there was no route
out of poverty for people with learning difficulties.
- The former subcontractors we met had found it
difficult to submit tenders to multiple prime contractors, but
most had managed to do so. However, submitting tenders, including
the pre-qualification questionnaire, was a huge amount of work,
and small providers were being squeezed out. One said that they
had been "treated like dirt" by prime contractors. They
had submitted eight expressions of interest, but only two prime
contractors had responded. They didn't know what use had been
made of their intellectual property in bids
- We heard several complaints about one prime contractor.
One subcontractor told us that they had worked with them before
on a verbal agreement, and had not been paid for work done.
- One subcontractor had delivered services successfully
in an area for 7 years but had not been allowed to tender to be
prime contractor because it was too small. It had applied to be
a subcontractor, however the new prime contractor had taken the
work in-house. The prime contractor was taking over the subcontractors
premises and some of their staff but the subcontractor was losing
money on the deal.
- Subcontractors told us that three organisations
were closely linked to each other. Each bid as a prime contractor,
listing the other two as subcontractors. The winning prime contractor
would only deliver 40% of services themselves, but the rest would
go to the other two organizations. Thus it did not matter who
won the tender, and there would be no or very little work for
any other organisations. Subcontractors argued that prime contractors
should not be allowed to be subcontractors as well.
- Subcontractors strongly disagreed with the suggestion
that their size meant that they could not fulfil contract requirements.
One subcontractor told us that it had bought the required encryption
software, and used to submit data from a range of voluntary organisations.
Another subcontractor had passed a full EU audit. A third had
previously been asked by DWP to do the administration for a DWP
pilot. Larger subcontractors had provided administrative support
for smaller ones. Several pointed out that they had passed the
DWP accreditation process. They felt very strongly that prime
contractors were using their size as an excuse. One subcontractor
said that their administration was done by professionals, while
the prime contractor used customers to answer phones.
- Subcontractors told us that when they did win
contracts they were treated poorly by prime contractors. Several
said that they were only sent the very hard to help which made
it hard to get outcome payments. One had successfully taken part
in New Deal despite this; another had had to pull out of a contract
because they were losing money. Subcontractors felt there should
be tighter control to ensure subcontractors were treated as partners.
However, they were sceptical about whether this would happen.
- Subcontractors felt that contracts affected the
way that their organisations worked. Contracts were very outcome
focused. There could be pressure to move people into unsustainable
employment. Others felt that what their organization did did not
fit into DWP programmes. Some offered all round help with housing,
benefits, training, and social care. Others said that the prime
contractors were very prescriptive and not giving them the opportunity
to use their expertise.
- Subcontractors told that they were sceptical
about the motivations of prime contractors. One organisation had
moved into NDDP because they thought there was money in the contract,
rather than because it had any experience with disabled people.
Another said she had interviewed staff who worked for big contractors
who felt there was too much focus on outcomes to allow them to
help customers properly.
- All the customers we met who were with one particular
provider were unhappy with the service they received. They told
us they only received "job search" help which was delivered
in groups; which customers felt was unhelpful (one customer said
some one-to one help was available). Customers commented that
the provider "wasn't doing anything I don't do myself"
and that they were pressured to apply for jobs that they and their
adviser agreed were unsuitable. Another customer said that he
felt stigmatised. Staff were giving very basic advice about time-keeping
and appropriate dress for work to highly qualified people who
had worked their whole lives and found it insulting. One customer
had been told that there was a limit to the number of hours he
could volunteer, although the rules have now changed and there
is no limit. Customers were surprised when they heard about the
help and training people with providers were receiving. Some had
not been aware that the service they were receiving was so limited.
- Customers were unhappy about the lack of flexibility
in the current system. One had arranged an IT training course,
which had then been delayed. He was told that he had to take part
in Employment Zone, and was no longer eligible for the funding
he needed for his course. Another had arranged training through
the Prince's Trust and voluntary work, and was again told he had
to take part in Employment Zones instead. Customers also complained
that if they had a Work Capability Assessment and were moved off
Employment and Support Allowance, they were forced to change provider,
even if they had a good relationship or were in the middle of
training. Others were unhappy that they had to be on JSA for
six months before they were eligible for additional help. They
felt that this was unfair and was a disincentive for them to take
short term work or training as they would have to wait another
six months for more help. One customer noted that after six months
unemployment they felt stigmatised by employers, and it became
harder to get work. Customers told us that they cannot switch
Employment Zone provider for any reason.
- Other customers were very happy with the help
they received. Some had only been with their provider a week or
two but had already had a detailed interview, help with CVs and
had start dates for training courses. One customer said that the
provider had explained that he wasn't very good at filling in
application forms; he wished he had been told that before. One
customer had been found a job within three days. He had previously
been put off applying for jobs because he did not have the qualifications.
However the provider had explained that in some cases these were
not necessary. Another customer had asked to see his provider
because they had successfully found him a job when he was last
unemployed four years ago.
- Many customers felt the help they received from
Jobcentre Plus was very limited, although some customers had had
good advisers. Customers complained of only getting "job
search" help and rarely seeing their personal adviser. Most
customers did not blame Jobcentre Plus staff who they said had
far too little time.
- Customers said they had not been given information
about Employment Zones by Jobcentre Plus before they started the
programme. Customer said there had not been a discussion about
which provider might be best for them.
- Customers felt that there was too much focus
on CVs. Providers all told them that they could do the best ones,
and they each ended up with several different CVs.
- Most customers were not aware of their provider's
complaints procedure. Most had not been asked for feedback, though
many of the customers we met had only been on programmes a short
time, so they may be asked for feedback at a later date.