By David Armstrong, Yvonne Byrne, Carol-Anne Cummings and Brendan Gallen
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published its Commissioning Strategy in February 2008. Within the welfare to work arena this new approach to commissioning provides the basis for a more strategic relationship between the Department and its providers. The Commissioning Strategy aims to achieve a step change in performance whilst ensuring appropriate and sustainable job outcomes for the Department’s customers. It seeks to transform the employment services market by introducing more levers to promote competition, to enhance performance and by placing an emphasis on supply chain management. This is expected to be achieved through the use of larger contracts of greater duration which are flexible and outcome-based. These contracts would be drafted in such a way as to encourage the emergence of a core of consistently high performing top tier providers who bring smaller providers with specialisms into their supply chain.
In implementing this new prime contracting model it is necessary to understand how providers are responding to the change and to incorporate their feedback into policy development. This report considers the impact of the Commissioning Strategy from a provider perspective by examining the welfare to work market in Great Britain prior to the introduction of the Commissioning Strategy and then post-implementation by focusing on Flexible New Deal Phase One, the first programme commissioned under the new strategy.