Monday, 13 June 2011

THANET IS A 'WEAK AREA,' SAYS THINK TANK

Thanet has been called a 'weak area' in which the new Work Programme is likely to fail, according to think tank The Work Foundation. Despite being hailed as a key component in the coalition government's welfare reforms, the Work Programme has been criticised by many, mainly due to the fact that it aims to operate on a payment-by-results basis in getting jobseekers back into work. This has led to the suggestion that some areas – of which Thanet is one – may end up being neglected as a result.

Major doubts have been raised over whether the Work Programme can solve the UK's unemployment crisis and get hard-to-help candidates into jobs.

The DWP website states that the Work Programme hopes to “ensure good value for money for the taxpayer by basing payments largely on results, and paying providers from the benefits saved from getting people into work.” It adds that it “is very much a partnership between the Government and providers from across the public, private and third sectors – including social enterprises.” It is also the biggest single payment-by-results employment programme ever introduced.

Concerns about the Work Programme's impact on Thanet were expounded upon in an article on the Telegraph website where Neil Lee, senior economist at the Work Foundation, said the following:

“As the Work Programme is based on payment by results, contractors carry the initial risk. There is therefore the danger that private contractors will focus on investing in places where they are more likely to get people into work to secure a return on investment. The financial risk may also be passed down to small, local voluntary organisations which could be knocked out of the market as a result.

“The Work Programme is based on a national payment structure and does not take into account local and regional variations in labour demand. Economic growth is faltering and parts of the country – still dealing with the fallout from the recession – are facing significant public sector job losses.”

If you read between the lines, you'll see where this is going. Basically, since Thanet is an unemployment blackspot (and there's not nearly enough jobs for everybody), it could very well be an uphill battle for the Work Programme to deliver a profit in our area. If things get worse for Thanet, especially once TDC and Pfizer staff start finding themselves being made redundant, then providers may be inclined to focus their energies on other regions instead which have more job opportunities at their disposal. So, if things don't pick up on the job front, Thanet may end up being cast aside and forgotten about... again.

On both sides of the political divide, the Work Programme has been met with eyebrows raised. Over on Left Foot Forward, Daniel Elton ponders whether these Work Programme 'contractors' are better at 'playing the game' than providing services as many of them “have dubious records carrying out public sector contracts.” Meanwhile, on The Spectator blog, Peter Hoskin believes the Work Programme policy is revolutionary, but “this isn't to say that [it] will be easy to implement, nor as successful as the government hopes.” Even a BBC article by Laura Kuenssberg acknowledges that “many in the industry have fears that the government has set the bar too high, and the scheme may just not be financially viable.” 

It's difficult to know for sure how this Work Programme is going to pan out, particularly in Thanet, but judging by the Work Foundation's report, the signs don't look too good. What do you make of it?

3 comments:

  1. "likely to fail" based on presumption... Thing is, its replacing something that stopped some time ago (New Deal), so its better than nothing, right?
    They could never come up with bespoke ideas for each region/district dependant upon situation as its far too costly. A one size fits all approach is all that the government will ever be able to offer.

    Unfortunately this time, its possible that this shoe doesn't fit Thanet, but some will be able to get into it.

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  2. I'm already looking at commutes of 2 hours where I can command between 30k and 40k as there is nothing closer.

    Knowing this if I wanted to make money offering my services to this rather dubious scheme I imagine that I would have to do what is done already at these back to work schemes - find some weak spot and exploit it for as long as possible so that the results work on paper if not in reality.

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  3. The cracks are already appearing, as the providers struggle to achieve contractual compliance, and resort to the age old practices of lies and deceit. But what would happen if they were 'removed' from the programme? Well basically absolutely nothing, as another inept and dishonest provider would be pushedd in to 'plug the gap'. If this sounds like cynical posturing, it's not. I work in the industry and hang my head in shame at the practices that I witness.

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