RR19: The Opportunities and Challenges of the Work Programme

21st April 2011.

As part of their wider drive towards public service reform, cost-cutting, and localism the Coalition Government has introduced a range of new policy around reforming the welfare system and streamlining employment programmes. On the welfare reform side of things we are seeing a shift away from distinctive benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, and Income Support which were allocated to claimants with differing needs; to a universal ‘one-size-fits-all’ credit. Employment programmes have gone a similar way, away from specific or neighbourhood focused programmes such as Pathways to Work, New Deal, and Working Neighbourhoods Fund to an all-encompassing single Work Programme.

In this Rapid Research we have identified a number of key challenges and opportunities for the delivery of the Work Programme. As well as our own thinking, we have sought the opinion of prime contractors, local authorities and voluntary and community sector organisations to understand potential solutions to these challenges and the potential opportunities that are emerging.