Government to transfer Jobcentre Plus work to private sector in welfare reform shake-up

Specialist companies will be brought in to improve the quality of unemployed job applicants, the government is expected to announce this week.

The CBI said it was confident that private sector firms would be allowed to take on some of the work carried out by Jobcentre Plus in preparing people for work.

Senior members of the employers’ group have held a series of meetings with officials from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in recent weeks, and believe the government is convinced of the merits of its plan.

Tom Moran, principal policy adviser at the CBI, told Personnel Today he was confident the government would sanction the use of more private and voluntary welfare-to-work providers.

The group last week submitted a plan for a reformed welfare system.

Moran said the system would benefit HR professionals by making millions of unemployed jobseekers more employable.

“It will mean an enormous pool of untapped potential coming through their doors to fill vacancies at a time when skills shortages are a major problem,” he said.

The government has been consulting on its Green Paper on welfare reform since the independent Freud Review recommended more private sector involvement back in March.

Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain originally said he was yet to be convinced by the review’s proposals, but last week gave a strong hint that he had changed tack.

Hain said: “I have seen at first hand the expertise that private and voluntary organisations bring to the table – they know what business is looking for.”

The CBI’s plan for welfare reform

  • Seven-year contracts for welfare-to-work providers, to allow long-term investment in services and staff training.
  • A ‘prime contractor’ model to manage provision and decide which sub-contractors – from the private, voluntary or public sector – would be most appropriate.
  • The creation of 25 to 30 ‘super districts’ to allow a manageable number of contracts for the government, yet encourage providers into the market.
  • The DWP to improve its commercial capacity, and equip its staff with the necessary procurement and contract management skills.

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