This is the first in a series of evaluation reports aiming to understand experiences of the Work Programme from the point of view of claimants, Jobcentre Plus staff and provider staff, and to establish the extent to which the Work Programme leads to additional employment outcomes. This research is part of a comprehensive evaluation of the Work Programme, commissioned in 2011 to provide an independent assessment of delivery and claimants’ experiences and outcomes. The evaluation also focuses on how the Department’s commissioning approach impacts on the provider market and influences service delivery and claimant outcomes.
This report covers the first phase of qualitative research investigating delivery and experience of the programme up until the end of June 2012. Fieldwork included qualitative in-depth interviews with participants, Jobcentre Plus and provider staff and observations of provider-participant meetings. The qualitative evaluation focuses on 12 local authority areas across 6 contract package areas involving 11 different prime providers and their subcontractors.
Work Programme providers are free to design their own services based on their assessments of individual and local needs. They are paid primarily for supporting claimants into employment and helping them stay there, with higher payments for supporting the hardest to help. This early research was specifically designed to help identify good practice and lessons to improve delivery of the programme. The Department is working closely with Jobcentre Plus and all the providers to act on the findings of the research and to maximise performance going forward.
Whilst this research enriches our understanding of provider delivery and the supporting role of Jobcentre Plus, the nature of the research and the fact that it is based on early experiences of the programme mean that it should not be used to draw conclusions about the overall effectiveness of the Work Programme. This will require longer term analysis, including examining the differences in provider performance to identify the factors affecting performance.
Work Programme statistics
Official Work Programme statistics, including data on referrals, attachments and job outcomes, are available in the Work Programme statistics series.