12 April 2011

In spite of all the ‘Big society’ rhetoric, the voluntary sector suffered a virtual wipe-out when contracts for the new work programme were announced earlier this month, with flagship agency Shaw Trust failing to win a single region.

The work programme is the government’s new scheme designed to pay very large sums of money to agencies who can move the long-term unemployed and sick and disabled claimants back into work .

Private sector partnership Ingeus Deloitte got the largest share of the contracts, with the much hated A4E coming in  second place.  Security firm G4S also won contracts in three regions.

Surprise failures were Atos Origin, who currently administer medical assessments on behalf of the DWP, which failed to win a single work programme contract.  This was particularly bad news for voluntary sector leaders Shaw Trust, who not only failed to win a single contract themselves, but had gone into partnership with Atos to bid for some regions.  Remploy are another high profile failure in the bidding war.

The only successful  voluntary sector agencies are Career Development Group, which has a share of the East London region and Rehab JobFit which took part of south west England and Wales. 

Worse still for the voluntary sector, was the realisation that although the DWP had claimed that private sector bidders would need to show that at least 30% of the work would be sub-contracted to the voluntary sector if they wanted to be successful, in reality this wasn’t true.  In the whole of Scotland, the two successful private sector bidders are allocating just 6% and 8% of their work to the voluntary sector.

Nonetheless, the DWP says that a total of almost 300 charities will be involved in delivering the work programme, including:

  • Mencap,
  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau,
  • Prince’s Trust,
  • Action for Blind People.

We’ll publish a full list of all the voluntary sector agencies  involved as soon as it becomes available.

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