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Rehabilitation of Offenders

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2013

3. What progress he has made on introducing payment by results for the rehabilitation of offenders. (148575)

We want to introduce payment by results to incentivise providers to reduce reoffending. It makes sense as a way of improving effectiveness and getting a good deal for the taxpayer.

Our “Transforming Rehabilitation” consultation closed on 22 February 2013. We will respond to it and bring forward detailed plans in due course.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. There is, however, a concern that a payment-by-results approach can favour larger national companies. What measures are being put in place to ensure that local voluntary and charitable organisations, which often have a proven track record built up over many years, will not be squeezed out?

I agree with my hon. Friend. Within the voluntary sector, we find very many of the mentoring skills that I am so keen to harness in preventing reoffending. That is why we have a team in the Cabinet Office working with the voluntary sector to ensure that they are as well prepared as possible for this exercise, and why I am making it absolutely clear that I do not believe that winning contracts can take place without a contribution from the mentoring skills to be found in the sector.

How does he intend to deal with the issue of payment by results in drugs rehabilitation? He will know that the Home Affairs Committee recommended the mandatory testing of prisoners on entry and exit from prisons. Will he look at that proposal, because it is the best way of ensuring that we break the devastating cycle of drug dependency?

I do not underestimate the drug challenge that we face. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware, from the work he has done on his Select Committee, how big a part drug addiction plays in the crime and disorder problems we face in this country. We are working closely with the Department of Health. He will be aware that we have many localised drug treatment pilots using payment by results. It is my clear objective to ensure that what we deliver in the Ministry of Justice synchronises carefully with the work that is being done with the Department of Health.

18. A key objective of Government policy must always be to reduce the number of prisoners, and there is no better way to do that than through rehabilitation, which prevents reoffending. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to target rehabilitation at those who are serving less than 12 months, where it would be most effective? (148593)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. One of the things that I have found most surprising about the system that we currently operate is that we do not currently provide all-round support for those who get sentences of less than 12 months. A central part of our reforms is to change that. It is this group who have the highest propensity to reoffend. It is simply not acceptable that we continue not to provide them with the same level of support as longer-sentenced prisoners when they leave jail.

I do not know whether the Secretary of State has looked at the National Audit Office’s response to his consultation. It says that, in the Work programme, the majority of providers were big private companies. It also says that it is likely that the most difficult, prolific offenders will not be picked and that there will be cherry-picking. So despite his warm words, does he not think that this is going the same way as his failed Work programme? Is he intending to have moved on before this fails as well?

I hate to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but the Work programme is succeeding in getting very large numbers of people into work, and is delivering much better value for the taxpayer than the programmes that we inherited from the previous Government. The truth is that the National Audit Office has contributed some valuable thoughts to our preparations for this exercise. I have listened to its contributions, as I will listen to all contributions, and we will deliver the most sensible, rounded package, particularly one that ensures that no one is left at the fringes of the system and that we provide rehabilitation and support to all offenders.