Work and Pensions Committee Press Notice

25 June 2008: For Immediate Release

Select Committee to inquire into DWP's commissioning strategy and the employment programme market

The Work and Pensions Committee today announced an inquiry to examine the Department for Work and Pensions commissioning strategy and the employment programme market. The Committee welcomes submissions, in accordance with the guidelines set out below, with particular reference to the following key areas:

€ Development of the employment programme market. Does evidence support the case for contracting out of employment programmes on a large scale? Are transaction costs sufficiently accounted for in efficiency calculations? Should full cost recovery be available for not for profit providers? Does the commissioning strategy demonstrate a level playing field in terms of contestability for third party and public sector providers?

€ Simplification of DWP's contracted provision. Is the flexible New Deal the right model for future employment programmes? How can DWP retain the good practice developed through existing programmes in the new structure? How will the employment programmes market change with the introduction of prime contractors?

€ Performance management. What lessons can be learned from DWP's current use of prime contractors and the relationship with sub-contractors? What are the challenges to developing accurate and accessible Management Information Systems? How should self-assessment frameworks be developed and used? How should good performance be incentivised? What should be included in calculations of performance related pay? Should performance be measured on outcomes or processes? How should accountability for failure in the tiered contract model be assured? What are the benefits and challenges of a star ratings system? What are the challenges to identify good practice within a large and diverse market?

€ Regional and sub-regional differences. What issues should be considered in the development and management of contracts in devolved regions? What are the challenges to fitting existing local partnerships and sub-regional strategies into a simplified landscape of DWP provision? How should the employment programme market militate against an "edge effect", ensuring that good quality provision is available in urban and rural areas?

€ Long-term effectiveness of intervention. Are the proposed contract lengths appropriate? How will contracts ensure that sustainability is a key focus of the employment programme market? How should joint commissioning with training provision and the incorporation of the skills agenda be developed? What impact will the wider economic situation have on contracts and on provider performance?

€ The customer experience. How should a system of customer choice work? Does the commissioning strategy reflect the needs of different groups such as those with mental health issues? How should the communication strategy for customers be developed to ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities, of the provision available, and of the complaints mechanisms? What are the potential implications of welfare reform and the new commissioning strategy on the sanctions regime?

The Committee seeks written contributions on this issue from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for written evidence is Monday 22 September 2008. Oral evidence sessions will take place in the Autumn.

Please note

Each submission should:

€ begin with a short summary in bullet point form;

€ have numbered paragraphs; and

€ be in Word format with as little use of colour/logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked "Commissioning Strategy Inquiry". If you do not have access to email, a paper copy should be sent to:

Emily Gregory, Work and Pensions Select Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately 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.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Please also note that:

€ Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

€ Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless specifically authorised.

€ Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. 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.