Committee Chair welcomes co-operation between UK and Welsh Governments on Work Programme problems in Wales
Responding to comments made by the DWP Minister, Esther McVey MP, in the House of Commons on Thursday 1 May, David TC Davies MP, Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, has said:
"I am very pleased that the Welsh Government and UK Government are working together to try to resolve the issues identified by the Welsh Affairs Committee in our report on the Work Programme in Wales from November last year.
The Committee highlighted that Work Programme participants in Wales are not able to access the full range of training courses available to them, unlike in England. This is due to different interpretations by the two governments about whether allowing Work Programme jobseekers to take courses funded by the European Social Fund is permissible under EU rules or not. The Committee considered the restriction to be detrimental to the performance of the Work Programme in Wales—where job outcome rates are lower than elsewhere in Great Britain—and ultimately for the opportunities available to the long-term unemployed.
We urged the Department for Work and Pensions and the Welsh Government to resolve this situation by February 2014. I am pleased that the two governments have worked together since our report was published to do that.
I welcome the recent statement made by the Welsh Government Deputy Minister, Kenneth Skates AM, which outlines the steps taken by the two governments since our report to look at practical solutions. A senior level working group, jointly chaired by DWP and the Welsh Government, has now been set up to take forward our recommendations.
The Committee will closely monitor progress made by the two governments in this area. Both governments have a common aim to support people in Wales seeking work, particularly the long-term unemployed, and it is imperative they work together to achieve that."
On Tuesday 29 March, Kenneth Skates AM, the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, made a statement to the National Assembly in respect of better aligning employment and skills services to support jobseekers in Wales. The Deputy Minister said he had met Esther McVey, UK Minister of State for Employment, in November 2013 and agreed to look at practical solutions to help jobseekers in Wales have access to the widest range of help available and to work with the DWP to simplify access to respective employment and skills programmes. It was agreed to set up a senior level working group, jointly chaired by the DWP and the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills, whose remit is "to take forward the recommendations arising from the Welsh Affairs Committee’s report on the Work Programme, and any other issues that require closer collaboration between the two Governments to ensure better alignment of employment policy."