Number 8: The Future of the Work Programme and Back to Work Support
By May 2015, it will definitely be time to put the Work Programme out of its misery, but what should the SoS do next?
Firstly, look back over 20 years of employability programmes and tap into the institutional memory of all the key players, past and present, in the world of welfare to work. I define the key players as including the Voluntary and Community Sector and niche private sector providers. In particular, revisit Jobclubs, Work Trials (as opposed to workfare), Labour’s New Deals, Pathways and the Future Jobs Fund, all of which provide a lot on which to build.
Secondly, take a long hard look at the programmes, other than the WP, currently being funded by DWP. Many of them are perverted versions of previous initiatives that worked well before May 2010. They were perverted by being scaled up, made mandatory and universal. Proportionate, bespoke programmes work best and, if referrals to them are appropriate and understandable to the client then sanctions should become very much the exception not the rule.
You know a programme is working well when people volunteer to go on it. May be set that as a target for DWP?
As an aside, I would suspend any efforts to encourage people to go self employed. There will be more about that issue in a later post.