Headlines: June 2nd, 2009

The body which represents providers of welfare to work services says the diversity of preferred bidders named for the first round of Flexible Deal contacts will ensure the development of new ways to support people if they are allowed to innovate. The Department for Work and Pensions has drawn up the list of bidders.

The Employment Related Services Association, the independent providers’ organisation has welcomed the announcement and said those companies that had not been successful would welcome thorough feedback from DWP so they could improve any future bids.

Amanda McIntyre, Director of ERSA, said: “DWP has appointed a diverse mix of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, combining existing providers with new entrants to the UK welfare-to-work market. This should bring new approaches towards supporting people into work, so long as providers are given the freedom to innovate.”

She said the promise of more flexible and personalised support for those looking for work should guide the preparations that could now get underway to implement the Flexible New Deal. The new model has been drawn up to give providers freedom from the rigid processes of previous programmes and Amanda McIntyre added, “The Government will need to resist any temptation to build in prescriptive constraints.”

She also urged those running the Flexible New Deal to take full advantage of the expertise that existed within service providers. “This was always an ambition of FND but it takes on even greater importance in the context of current labour market conditions,” Ms McIntyre said.