Today (Tuesday 27 November) has seen the first official figures relating to the Work Programme – the Government’s flagship Payment by Results scheme. The initiative sees companies and charities charged with helping get the unemployed back into work. The figures show that just 3.5% or 31,000 people, out of 878,000 referred to the scheme have kept a job for six months or more. The figures, which cover the 13 months from June 2011 to July 2012, also show those contracted with delivering the programme have missed the Government’s target of getting 5.5% into sustainable employment.
These figures underline the Probation Chiefs Association concerns about the Government’s plans to introduce similar PbR contracts to the delivery of traditional probation services.
John Wiseman, who leads on Competition and Commissioning for the Probation Chiefs Association, said: “Payment by Results is Chris Grayling’s proposed mechanism for the future delivery of many key probation services and, while not wanting to draw too many conclusions, these early results show how challenging it will be.
“Working with offenders, who often have multiple problems and needs, is an incredibly complex business and to achieve outright results will be extremely difficult.
“The Government’s current proposal is to have a single ‘binary’ measure for results – that is to say success or failure in PbR terms will be measured simply by whether or not someone re-offends.
“The PCA believes this is far too simplistic a measure and credit should be given to other factors, such as less frequent and/or less serious offending, successful completion of community orders, finding employment and/or suitable and stable accommodation, all of which are important and significant measures of progress on what is a difficult journey and not a quick fix.
“In principle, we are not against PbR, and believe it can drive innovation, however we firmly believe the Government needs to give careful consideration both to the design of such schemes and to what the outcome measures should be.
“In addition, we believe that competition for PbR contracts should be on a level playing field, open to voluntary and private sector organisations along with probation, which has a high level of experience and expertise.
“It is in this spirit we recently wrote a letter to Justice Minister Jeremy Wright, explaining our position and, following these early PbR results, we hope and would actively seek to be part of any future Government consultation.”
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