New Report Examines DWP Disability Employment Provision

The Centre for Social Justice has published a new report, Commissioning Excellence in Disability , that examines DWP's nationally contracted disability employment provision. 

The report is critical of performance over recent years and highlights some of the problem areas including commissioning processes, funding models and supply chain management. It suggests ways of making better use of the expertise within the voluntary sector and makes a series of recommendations.

"Governments have failed to help disabled people of all health needs into employment, but those with the most complex problems have been failed most profoundly. This is despite the fact that DWP investment in employment programmes over the past six years alone has come in at approximately over £3 billion."

The disability employment gap currently stands at almost 70% for those people with a learning disability or in contact with secondary mental health services.

The report looks at commissioning processes, funding models, the impact of devolution and the co-location of staff. It also considers suppkly chain issues including how the voluntary sector can be better utilised to meet jobseeker needs.

Whilst we don't agree wiith all the conclusions and recommendations in the report, it's a very useful analysis of some of the issues that are preventing jobseekers from accessing appropriate support.

Payment by Results is questioned and the report advocates the use of higher service fees to reduce risk within the voluntary sector. It also suggests that the Government should "reassess the design of its disability employment provision and take urgent steps to (re)introduce a specialist, sensory element into current and future nationally contracted programmes, including the Work and Health Programme and Intensive Personalised Employability Support" and "commission a broader range of providers with specialist expertise to deliver high-quality sensory support for individuals with acute needs".

We agree with this approach but the suggested use of lower thresholds for the EHRSUA will do little, by itself, to encourage greater inolvement from local specialist services.  BASE is currently working with DWP to identify ways of funding locally-commissioned specialist services and a trailblazer project is going to be tendered this spring. 

The report suggests additions to the Merlin Standard to promote better management of supply chains and greater involvement of the voluntary sector. Whilst we agree with the reasoning, it's clear to us that the Merlin Standard needs replacing rather than reforming.

The report also advocates a "local-first approach" to commissioning and examines the impact of devolution on service commissioning. It suggests an expansion of this approach and the co-location of staff within jobcentres.