Committee launches inquiry into the Work Programme

26 October 2012

The Work and Pensions Committee published a report on the design and commissioning of the Work Programme in 2011. It is now launching an inquiry into how well the Work Programme is working for different user groups.

The Government’s contracted employment programme, the Work Programme, was launched in June 2011. Its objective is to help long-term unemployed people find work and come off benefits. It replaced a number of existing programmes, including Flexible New Deal and Pathways to Work, consolidating support into a single programme which aims to help a wide range of unemployed people.

DWP contracts with large prime providers to deliver services to long-term unemployed people, often through supply chains of subcontractors in the private, public and voluntary sectors. Providers are paid on a payment-by-results basis, with larger payments available for finding sustainable employment for people who are considered harder to help. Providers are free to decide how best to help Work Programme participants, without prescription from the Government—the so-called “black box” approach.

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals, including employment services providers (whether or not currently engaged in the Work Programme), and current or recent participants in the Work Programme, on any of the following issues: 

  • The differential payments model including: the extent to which it is incentivising providers to help all participants and thereby addressing “creaming and parking”; how effectively the model reflects claimants’ relative needs; and variations in job outcomes between the different payment groups;
  • The prime provider model including: its impact on subcontractors; and the extent to which it helps ensure that participants receive services tailored to their particular needs;
  • The level of service provided to participants in different payment groups including: whether minimum service delivery standards have been specified in sufficient detail by providers and DWP; and the rigour and effectiveness of DWP’s monitoring and complaints procedures;
  • The “black box” approach to service delivery including: whether it is proving to be effective in fostering innovative and personalised interventions for claimants in all payment groups; and DWP’s role in monitoring this; and
  • Regional variations in job outcome statistics: including whether competition between providers is driving up performance in contract package areas where the economy is particularly depressed; and how provider performance could be improved in these areas.

DWP statistics on referrals and attachments to the Work Programme are available via the DWP website. Official job outcomes statistics for the Work Programme are expected to be published for the first time in late November 2012.

The deadline for written submissions is Friday 7 December 2012.

How to submit your evidence

  • Contributors should feel no obligation to comment on all the issues raised above, but should focus on those areas in which they have particular expertise or interest.
  • Submissions should be in Word or rich text format, not PDF format, and sent by email to  The body of the email must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The email should also make clear who the submission is from. Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Work and Pensions Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.
  • Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained piece of written evidence. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include a summary. Read our submission guidance manual (PDF 1.4MB) (PDF PDF 1.25 MB)
  • Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Material already published elsewhere may be referred to within a proposed piece of written evidence, in which case a link to the published work should be included.
  • Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee. It is the Committee’s decision whether or not to accept a submission as formal written evidence.
  • Please bear in mind that the Committee cannot investigate individual cases.
  • The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet (where it will be accessible by search engines) or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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