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Employment Schemes: Voluntary Organisations

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 6 April 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment she has made of the likely effects on the voluntary sector of the decision to reduce the number of prime contractors under the Work Choice Programme. (325464)

Smaller, specialist organisations including those from the faith-based, voluntary and third sector already play an important role in delivering support to our customers. For example, as of 1 March 2010, 29 per cent. of the Department’s Welfare to Work contracts were with providers from the third sector, compared to 38 per cent. from the private sector and 33 per cent. from the public sector.

As we move to longer, larger contracts with prime contractors, it is important that we do all we can to ensure that organisations from the voluntary and third sector are engaged and made aware of the opportunities to work as sub-contractors/partners with the prime contractors. Prime contractors will be expected to ensure that DWP provision is joined up with local partnership arrangements, working with smaller, specialist providers, many of whom will be third sector or voluntary organisations dealing with disadvantaged groups in the local area.

Specifically, as part of the procurement of the Work Choice programme, DWP established a database to facilitate the networking between prospective prime contractors and delivery partners. This was published on the DWP website; updated on an ongoing basis and included the contact details of all organisations who agreed to have these details published. Additionally, two events took place in September 2009, to further facilitate networking between potential prime providers and those organisations seeking to deliver at sub-contractor level. Nearly 600 people attended these events.

DWP are taking every public and private opportunity to stress to potential prime providers that they are taking a keen interest in observing how organisations are taking forward their partnering strategies and the care with which they are engaging with third sector organisations.