Is the Work Programme working?
18 Dec 2014
The Work Programme is the first welfare-to-work programme that has aimed to support such a wide range of workless claimants in differing circumstances through a single programme. It was implemented across Great Britain in June 2011. It is commissioned through private and voluntary sector contractors and is designed to provide support to long-term unemployed and inactive people and to assist them to gain sustainable work.
IES is leading the consortium that is evaluating the programme on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. Its partners in the evaluation are GfK-NOP, Inclusion, NIESR, and SPRU.
Key research questions that the evaluation is addressing include:
Commissioning: How does the commissioning model impact on the provider market? How do DWP and prime providers influence service delivery and outcomes? Why do providers design their services the way they do?
Delivery: What services do providers deliver to participants and how do they deliver them? What is the participant experience? What are the key operational lessons learnt from delivery?
Outcomes: What are participants' outcomes and destinations? How quickly do participants flow off benefit? How long do participants stay in work? What is the impact on benefit off-flows, job entry, retention and time in employment?
The Department has published three new reports based on the evaluation research, which explore:
- participant views on programme and experiences of delivery including their outcomes following support (Meager et al, 2014)
- the views of providers on the commissioning model and their experiences of delivering the programme (Foster et al, 2014), and
- the programme's provision for prison leavers* (George et al, 2014)
These reports build on two earlier evaluation studies:
- Newton et al, 2012 which explored early messages about delivery from participant and provider perspectives,
- Lane et al, 2013 which provided initial insights into the commissioning model.
A final synthesis report is planned which will draw together findings from across the evaluation strands. The intention is that this will be published in 2015.
* The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) are the lead contractor for the research into provision for prison leavers.