Employment Related Support Services (ERSS) are at the heart of the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda, and offer an opportunity to invest in modernising the welfare state to help the UK return to economic prosperity.
Reforming the welfare state so that people move away from benefit dependency and into employment is at the heart of the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda. To deliver these reforms, the ERSS framework is replacing existing delivery models, (such as the Flexible New Deal), where organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors support people back into work. The ideal market for ERSS (as described in the Freud Review) is one with three or four main suppliers in each region – with the aim of reducing cost, transferring risk and improving outcomes by outsourcing the delivery of work services.
However, moving straight to this ideal model is fraught with difficulties. The current market is highly fragmented with suppliers offering a range of services, and very few offer a complete solution. The barriers to work faced by the workless vary significantly: by locality and by individual circumstances. And, the tough settlement agreed in the recent spending review will need careful handling to avoid the temptation to engage low cost suppliers to deliver ERSS as a quick fix to reduce spend on welfare..
We believe ERSS is an investment opportunity to provide the long term infrastructure needed to modernise the welfare state and help the UK return to economic prosperity. This can be realised by:
having a wide range of services to choose from - using a rich mix of service providers who specialise in each of the areas required to deliver effective employment outcomes for different groups. In some cases, e.g. those recently unemployed who have current skills and are easy to place, then the suppliers who can handle large volumes and provide straightforward matching services are the most appropriate choice. In contrast, those individuals coming from a disability allowance background are likely to need a mix of FE training to provide skills plus support from niche suppliers who understand what is and isn’t possible for the specific disablement and counselling to ensure the transition into work is successful
monitoring progress to make sure the right outcomes are being achieved - making sure that not only are people getting into work but that it is sustainable employment. For example, there may be several short phases of employment first and maintaining motivation throughout the process is an important element of the support provided
investing in the framework for the long term - piloting new approaches to foster innovation, supporting suppliers as they develop their services and accepting that there will be failures as well as successes along the way. Adopting a long term view will be crucial to driving change across the sector to create a supplier market able to manage risk better and accept greater responsibility for outcomes over time.
This is a fundamental change to the way the welfare state operates. It needs intelligent engagement with the best organisations from across the private, public and voluntary sectors to deliver this ambition and to create a stronger, more competitive and increasingly flexible supplier market.
To learn how PA can help develop the welfare supplier market, Please contact us now.