Headlines: June 6th, 2008

A new Taskforce has been set up to look at what part voluntary and charity bodies can play in welfare-to-work reform. It will be led by acevo – the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – and the Department for Work and Pensions and it will explore the Third Sector’s potential role and make recommendations for how that potential can be used.

Launching the Taskforce the Work and Pensions Secretary, James Purnell, said it marked a renewed effort by the DWP to engage fully with the Third Sector on the issue. It will be chaired by Tony Hawkhead, Chief Executive of Groundwork with the Government Adviser David Freud as Vice-Chair. The Taskforce will meet on a monthly basis and report back in January.

Its three main purposes will be to identify any barriers to the Sector being fully involved and to recommend ways to remove those impediments; to recognise outstanding good practice and to recommend how it could be replicated and to clarify the Sector’s precise role and value in welfare to work reform.

Stephen Bubb, the Chief Executive of acevo, said, “Many third sector organisations work at the coal-face of local communities, and with their personalised and integrated approach they can play a vital role in transforming welfare-to-work programmes, as providers of and advocates for new and better services.” He added that in Australia about half of welfare to work services for the long-term unemployed were provided by the Third Sector and he added, “We believe this Taskforce represents real progress towards engaging the third sector’s potential, and I expect it to result in a step-change in DWP-Third Sector relations.”