For those who witness at first hand the devastating and demoralising effects of long-term worklessness, talk of efficiency and economics is at best immaterial and at worst insulting. For them, as it should be for all of us, one life wasted is one too many.

Graham Duxbury & Eoin Heffernan, September 2015

Between 2010 and 2015, a system of public service delivery developed which sees increased outsourcing as a primary driver of efficiency for the taxpayer. One of the big test beds for this new market in ‘human services’ was the welfare to work or employment support sector.

This report reflects on the voluntary sector’s role in this system and the lessons learned during half a decade of new thinking, new funding models and a new market.

The report recommends a new approach to commissioning employment support should have the following characteristics:

  • A spatial scale large enough to achieve economies but where local public services already operate effectively together.
  • Provision focused on those assessed as needing more substantial levels of support.
  • Multi-sector partnership boards ensuring strategic buy-in to partnership working, effective data sharing and alignment strategies.
  • Contract management provided by an organisation experienced at acting as a prime contractor but operating open-book accounting with a profit lock, ensuring any surplus through over-performance is shared with the supply chain or otherwise used to benefit communities in the area.
  • Payments structured in a way which rewards providers for moving people closer to and into work but also for keeping them out of local statutory services and out of poverty by avoiding sanctions.

Read the full report: What’s a working life worth?