Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services

Among those selected by the government to carry out its welare to work programme are Atos, G4S and Serco - all have dubious records carrying out public sector contracts.

Among those selected by the government to carry out its welare to work programme are Atos, G4S and Serco – companies that have dubious records carrying out public sector contracts.

For example, it was Atos’s healthcare arm that needed to pull out of a ten-year contract to run a GP surgery in London’s east end after three years, as it could not provide the services it promised and was suspended from providing ultrascans for the NHS, due to technical errors and recording patients information incorrectly. Up to 900 patients had to be rescanned.

G4S has a similarly chequered record.

Its security arm, in charge of deporting foreign nationals from the UK, has experienced controversy, as in one week last year when one of its detainees died while being held in custody, and another was found to have suffered:

“…multiple bruising or petechiae (purple skin spots caused by broken blood capillaries) on his torso, back and arms as well as tenderness over his lower abdomen.”

Meanwhile, Serco’s cleaning services at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital were found to be deficient after a Freedom of Investigation request by Australian union United Voice, worried about outsourcing to the multinational in its country.

Six out of eight wards failed to meet hygiene standards at Forth Valley.

A proponent of outsourcing could say that the way forward was obvious: do not renew the contracts involved and let Atos, G4S and Serco face the market consequences. Except this all does leave a puzzle. One reason why outsourcing is meant to work is that instead of government doing lots of jobs mediocrely, it should outsource services specialist companies that are experts in that particular service.

Yet these companies are not specialists in any type of service. Despite not mastering healthcare, detention or hygiene services, they offer dozens of services, that include welfare to work.

What does unite the different services is not what they actually involve, but that they require applying for public sector contracts.  And for that, they hire lobbyists: lots of them.

So Serco have hired Bellenden, Fleishman-Hillard, Four Communications Group Plc and Weber Shandwick, thereby securing meetings with Home Office minister Nick Hurd, Tory party policy chief Oliver Letwin, and defence ministers Charles Hendry and Peter Luff. The circle is completed when a politician is hired by a contract-tenderer, for example when former defence secretary John Reid became a director at G4S.

We have seen recently how we still haven’t got it right on public services outsourcing. One part of the solution is about mkaing sure that those who offer the best services win contracts, not just who are best at the lobbying game.

43 Responses to “Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services”

  1. Vicky

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services: http://bit.ly/mTkE3W writes @DanielElton

  2. Mabel Horrocks

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/1HpOhaI

  3. FromTheSham

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services: http://bit.ly/mTkE3W writes @DanielElton

  4. Andrea Shaw

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services: http://bit.ly/mTkE3W writes @DanielElton

  5. Shaw Trust Sucks

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services: http://bit.ly/mTkE3W writes @DanielElton

  6. Allison Ogden-Newton

    @leftfootfwd Totally agree public service contracts should go 2 those that deliver not the bidding machines http://bit.ly/mTkE3W

  7. Michael

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services – http://bit.ly/kzCV40

  8. Carolyn Anderson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/CzAhrF3

  9. DarkestAngel

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services – http://bit.ly/kzCV40

  10. Richard

    Not to mention the fact that the public accounts select committee has already delivered a damning verdict on the dire results of some of the companies that have previously held contracts to get people into work and have secured contracts again.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/04/benefits-bonanza-big-serco-welfare

  11. Clive Burgess

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/SGJ6a48

  12. David Mullen

    Looks like a directorship for Grayling once his ministerial career goes tits up.Aren’t a lot of the tenderers also significant contributors to tory funds?

  13. Marcus Mason

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services: http://bit.ly/mTkE3W writes @DanielElton

  14. MARY HALL

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/QyKqE8D

  15. MARY HALL

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/QyKqE8D

  16. Sol Smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/QyKqE8D

  17. nathan eastwood

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/Xrliv0Q

  18. disabledbabe

    I found this very helpful.do you know about any of the lobbyists working on behalf of Atos, apart from moreover which is responsible for ‘reputation management’ lol

  19. paulstpancras

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services – http://icio.us/f6SU1t

  20. UKFreeNews

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services – http://icio.us/f6SU1t

  21. Jon Purdom

    It’s a sad fact, but most companies seem to think nowadays that provided someone’s been trained in management that they need no understanding of the industry that they’re in charge of. The government has also taken this ideology on board.

    The reality is that while this may (but often doesn’t) provide a low cost option, the quality of service provided usually falls to the lowest level permitted in the contract, while the maximum amount of profit is squeezed out of it. Expert skills are lost – and when the unexpected happens there is a “headless chicken” situation where the people with the authority to make decisions are completely unqualified to do so. I have seen this happen several times in the aviaition industry and have no doubt that it will be repeated many times if the public sector is privatised with the financial pressures that this government is demanding. Lives will be lost. Services will decline. And the main beneficiaries will be some corporation’s shareholders. Call me an enemy iof enterprise if you wish.

  22. Anon E Mouse

    These companies don’t get paid until the individual has been working for at least two years.

    This post is therefore a pile of anti government drivel.

    There have been enough deaths and mistreatment already in the dirty stinking hospitals run by the NHS – I don’t see how this can’t help plus unless it does they don’t get paid…

    Joe Purdom – “lives are already being lost” and services have already declined – you’re on the wrong side of the curve fella…

  23. matthew fox

    I see the resident rodent is mouthing off again, I bet he lives in one on those dirty stinking NHS hospitals.

    I wonder if Anon E Ratface prefers the taxpayer bankrolling the office of Deputy Prime Minister, to the tune of £1.02 million. Do you think any of his 5 Special Advisers clock off at 3pm?

  24. Vanessa

    RT @leftfootfwd: Welfare-to-work companies may be better at 'playing the game' than providing services http://t.co/vjRWBCw

  25. Lynn Matthews

    I’d imagine these 3 organisations have the advantage of being able to employ a large number of people they are returning to work within their own operations!

  26. Leon Wolfson

    Lynn, on the contrary: I’d imagine that there are very few of those. They haven’t got the right connections to work in what are essentially government jobs…

  27. chris star

    Welfare-to-work companies may be better at ‘playing the game’ than providing services…
    http://j.mp/ieRZxn
    #workfare

  28. Anon E Mouse

    matthew fox – At least we agree on the state of the hospitals after Gordon Brown’s “Deep Clean” – what a waste of our money that was.

    Anyway now that I’ve been proven right about Miliband as Labour tanks in the polls I’d have thought the last thing a party activist (although in your case I use the term lightly matthew fox) would want it to remind everyone of the last Deputy PM of the Labour Party.

    Not the countess toff, Harriet Harman but the pie eater John Prescott. You remember him matthew fox – had two toilet seats repaired at our costs along with £5000 for food – despite, or perhaps of his bulimia. And of course the thousands paid for his 8 bedroom house even though he had Dorneywood and the place paid for by the unions.

    You remember his house in Hull surely matthew fox – it’s where Pauline went nuts after his affair with Tracey Templeton, his secretary who he then smeared and they got rid of. Charming.

    Oh and you remember Dorneywood where he liked to play croquet in the afternoon. What amazes me is the class warrior who is now in the House Of Lords – Lord Prescott.

    Nick Clegg is cheap at twice the price and has attained a position in politics Ed Miliband can only dream of.

    Anyway enjoy your weekend and remember no matter how rude you are to me in public forums I was right about Gordon Brown being a useless loser and I’m right about Ed Miliband being the same.

    And I ask again matthew fox. Do you have nothing positive to say about the Labour Party?

  29. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Anon E Mouse has not read the pricing proposal sheer available, I have. Mouse is wrong.

    I’ve noticed this about you Mouse, that you’re not a liar but a bullshitter. You don’t deny the truth, you’re just not interested in it. Just so you know, those dirty stinking hospitals are cleaned by private companies. When the NHS had their own cleaners they tended to be spotless.

    The model for the Work Programme is almost identical to the Flexible New Deal, it’s just scheduled to go on for longer and initially involves more contractors. I expect it will have a very high attrition rate as the primes rip-off the sub-contractors and the larger ones leverage themselves against the smaller ones. For the first year they are paid an attachment fee for every referral (same as FND). For the first year the fee is 100%, 75% the next year and 50% in the third year before being cut completely after that. The fee is different for each of the referral groups. They are paid when they get someone into a job for about four weeks: the Fixed Job Outcome fee. It’s between £1,200 and £840 for most claimants but £3,500 for former Incapacity Benefit Claimants who have been transferred to the ESA Work-Related Activity Group. The fee is paid once a client has clocked up a certain number of weeks and it doesn’t even have to be in continuous or with the same employer; it will be about four to six weeks and the provider gets the money. For every four weeks after that they receive additional payment.

    They don’t receive payment after two years: they receive payment *for up to two years* while the client is in work. They will get further incentive payments which have not yet been decided.

    Please link where you heard clients would have to be in work for two years before the providers are paid, otherwise you’re just making shit up as usual.

  30. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Sorry just to clarify: a fee is paid on referral and that is the attachment fee. The second fee is the Fixed Job Outcome fee and that just requires the providers to get clients to clock up a few weeks in work over time. I noticed this wasn’t very water-tight and I expect that any work, even voluntary stuff or ‘mandatory work-related activity’ will be counted. Then the clients that are unlikely to actually be found real jobs will be dumped onto sub-contractors or certain players will announce they can no longer afford to take part and just bounce off with the money after the initial referral splurge bonanza.

  31. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Anyone interested in a lot of reading and detail on the Work Programme, the relevant DWP page is here: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/supplying-dwp/what-we-buy/welfare-to-work-services/work-programme/

  32. Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – Of course I selectively choose which bit’s I post online – so do you. Everyone does.

    So when I say Ed Miliband is a useless tax avoiding property millionaire who’s never done a single days work in his life and is going to lead Labour to election defeat after election defeat that’s true.

    He may have some good qualities – certainly he seems like a misguided but decent chap in comparison to the backstabbing Ed Balls but why would I say that? That last statement was also true.

    So now onto your main post – @10 and @11.

    So now you have realised that the main point I make regarding the brunt of the payment is correct and all you can do is opine as to why it MAY go wrong – your assessment only Mason Dixon, Autistic not a fact.

    You also say: “Just so you know, those dirty stinking hospitals are cleaned by private companies. When the NHS had their own cleaners they tended to be spotless.”.

    So again we have another Labour activist who agrees with me again and I agree with you about the private contractors being the problem.

    But guess what Mason Dixon, Autistic. Labour had 13 years in power with a majority political parties can only dream of and they did nothing at all to reverse it….

  33. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Ok Mouse, obviously you didn’t read my post because I never said you ‘selectively choose which bit’s I post online’. I said you’re a bullshitter: you make claims without references and then just hope no one actually knows about the subject. Unfortunately you did this in a thread on Welfare to Work. You’re indifferent to facts.

    I am not giving you my opinion: I am reading out to you what is there on the DWP site in the Pricing Proposal and guidance sheets. I never said anything about Ed Milliband, what are you on about? Nor am I a ‘Labour activist’. I’m talking about this claim you made:

    “These companies don’t get paid until the individual has been working for at least two years.”

    It’s wrong and not just wrong, certainly not ‘may’ be wrong but *flat-out factually wrong* as in ‘completely different to the pricing model published by the DWP’. You either made it up or read it on a website where you get your vacant talking points and they made it up. To pretend now that you are a critic of private companies on public contracts doesn’t wash, you said this:

    “There have been enough deaths and mistreatment already in the dirty stinking hospitals run by the NHS – I don’t see how this can’t help plus unless it does they don’t get paid…”

    This is not you criticising contractors. It’s you criticising the NHS and defending contractors on the basis that they will supposedly ‘not get paid’ if they fail. They do fail and they still get paid. You’ve been caught out and now you’re trying to claim you’ve said the opposite of what you have said. No I do not agree with anything you’ve said and no amount of deliberate misreading and non sequiters will change that.

  34. Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You are just being awkward and rude just for the sake of it. I mentioned the hopeless Miliband as a means of illustrating that.

    I said I selectively choose what I post – I do – what I post has nothing to do with you – except where obviously you are making things up as you are here.

    On the dirty stinking NHS hospitals I care about people getting MRSA and dying from infections. You may be terrified of saying anything bad about the incompetent manner in which the NHS is run but I’m not.

    I don’t care if it is the contractors or the hospital that is responsible; all you are doing is excusing the pathetic way in which it is run instead of addressing the problem. You seem to enjoy moaning and groaning about the system instead of rolling up your sleeves and getting involved with positive advice (if you have any which I admit seems unlikely).

    Finally on your assertion that companies like Serco involved in the work program will get paid upfront please link directly to where you got that from. I understood they had to keep people in jobs for 18 months minimum to get 90% of their costs.

    Unless of course you’re making things up as usual…

  35. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    I linked it Mouse. It’s in the Pricing Proposal and the Pricing Proposal Guide. You’d know this if you had actually read my posts rather than making stuff up.

  36. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    “I understood they had to keep people in jobs for 18 months minimum to get 90% of their costs.”

    Which isn’t what you said earlier, that isn’t the same as ‘clients have to be in work for at least two years before the providers get paid’. Where did you actually read this? I posted my citation even before I was asked (you asked me after failing to actually look at the link I posted), you have posted no source for your bullshit.

  37. Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You are nit picking to be awkward – I didn’t do the same to you when you clarified @10.

    This is not a court room Mason Dixon, Autistic. Please calm down and stop being rude or I shall do the same and all that will be achieved is two impolite people posting here instead of just one – you in this case.

    You have no need to use profanities in a public forum.

    Children may be reading this and your case is not strengthened because of your vulgarity. It isn’t big and it isn’t clever.

    You are claiming I am incorrect in my assertion that the fees for these companies are not paid in full up front. Please tell me which bit of that is incorrect. I do not have time to go through the whole of the document. You have (allegedly) read it. Please link to the relevant part that shows the companies get paid in full up front…

  38. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Nit picking? You’re blatantly acting as if I said things completely different to what I actually did say. You’re acting as if what you actually said was something completely different too. You’ve gone from this:

    “These companies don’t get paid until the individual has been working for at least two years.”

    To this:

    “I understood they had to keep people in jobs for 18 months minimum to get 90% of their costs.”

    To this:

    “You are claiming I am incorrect in my assertion that the fees for these companies are not paid in full up front. Please tell me which bit of that is incorrect. ”

    The part that is incorrect is that these are not the same claim. They are not even three different versions of the same claim. They are three completely different claims. I gave the relevant citation before you even asked and now you’re stalling and haven’t provided a single citation for your original claim or the second one. Now I’m pretty sure you know how PDFs and Excel files work and that you can’t link to specific parts of them (externally in the case of PDFs), meaning you haven’t even bothered clicking the link I posted where you could see they were a PDF and XLS file. In any case it wouldn’t help you because to understand how the Work Programme pricing model works, you have to read the whole thing. If it could be summed up on a single page, then the Pricing Proposal would only be a page long. I’d say that pages 5 to 8 would be the most relevant, but this assumes this is a discussion being had in good faith. I have found it is anything but and that you are a wilful liar that simply tries to wear people down with gibberish mixed with strawmen and repeating what someone accuses you of back at them without the structure and constraints of evidence and context.

  39. Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You claimed they would be paid up front.

    I said they wouldn’t. You were making things up and without an upfront payment you have no case.

    That’s it really. You can waffle on all you want and be as rude as you choose but you are wrong. The payments are not made up front so your point is complete personal opinion and I happen to disagree with it.

    Simples.

  40. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    I never said anything of the sort Mouse. You can not quote anywhere in this thread where I did and you’re are mixing up the chronology now to make out as if I made the initial claim and you were the dissenting responder.

    You posted that providers wouldn’t be paid until a client has been working for at least two years. I told you this was wrong and I told you why this is wrong with references towards the DWP’s published documents on it. You then started lying about what I had said and lying about what you had said and you still are.

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  43. Kacey

    Thankyou, sorry I did not see this earlier, wil send the link on. Flaws in outsourcing are becoming ever more evident…

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