By Dr David Armstrong, Carol-Anne Cummings, Kieran Jones and Eilis McConville
Under the Commissioning Strategy (February 2008) the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) fundamentally changed its approach to commissioning employment provision. Through working more strategically with providers, commissioning principles were designed to achieve a step change in provider performance whilst at the same time ensuring appropriate and sustainable job outcomes for DWP’s customers. This is to be achieved through offering providers longer contracts covering a larger geographical area with minimal prescription on the content of service provision.
Providers are being paid on the basis of outcomes, rewarding providers for enabling customers to secure sustainable employment. In return, DWP requires providers to invest in their capability, and encourages them to develop strong and consistently high performing supply chains, to ensure that customers can access a suitable range of services.
In implementing this approach to commissioning contracted employment provision, it is important for DWP to understand how providers are responding to the change and to incorporate feedback from providers into policy development. This report considers the impact of the commissioning principles from a provider perspective by examining the welfare to work market in Great Britain during live running of Flexible New Deal (FND), the first programme commissioned under the new strategy. It also updates findings of the early implementation of FND as reported in Research Report No 704, The Commissioning Strategy: Provider survey on early implementation.