NAVCA Blog - posted in December 2011
The following blogs were posted in December 2011.
Richard Caulfield at Voluntary Sector North West has questioned how valid these are in the North West of England.
The results of DWP research are as follows:
An exercise carried out on 12th August 2011 shows that of the 852 total number of organisations from all sectors in the supply chain, just under 50% (423) of these are VCS suppliers. A quarter (108) of these are in the tier 1 supply chain and three quarters (315) in tier 2.
This DWP think that equates to
20% is an estimate of the proportion of initial referrals going to VCS. The 20% figure is likely to be a significant underestimate of the amount of VCS involvement in the Work Programme.
DWP has also released a 49 page (pdf) breakdown of each supply chain's tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers, listing who is public, private and voluntary.
It would be interesting to know how accurate in reality these supply chains are, and how much the accusations of 'bid candy' are true. It is likely that many listed providers only receive minimal or no through flow.
What do you think? Do you agree with Richard? We'd like to hear what your experiences are, leave a comment or get in touch.
Meanwhile the Merlin Standard, which will regulate these relationships, looks like it should grind into life soon as a provider - emqc ltd - has been selected by DWP to run the standard.
How will it work?
The standard will evaluate against supply chain design, commitment, conduct and review.
All 18 Primes will be contractually subject to mandatory Merlin Standard assessment prior to June 2012. The accreditation is mandatory and will be assessed against the Merlin Principles every 2 years.
Merlin Accreditation will also be open on a voluntary basis to Providers that do not currently hold a DWP Prime contract
Will it have teeth?
This is it what we are waiting to find out. DWP and the minister have talked tough about the standard. So teeth yes, but how sharp? In reality, primes will be given time to improve practice. "If your organisation does not achieve a satisfactory result in the first assessment, you will be required to undertake another assessment within 3‐6 months."
Other factors will inevitably come into play too. Will a contract be cancelled if it is hitting targets but not meeting the Merlin standard? Or will it be cancelled if it meets the standard but fails to hit targets?
In the assessment guidance DWP say that "Consecutive unsatisfactory results may result in breach action being instigated and the contract terminated".
History would suggest that government's are reluctant to cancel such large contracts for under performance - think trains, government IT contracts. This seems especially true if multiple primes are underperforming in a stagnant job market, what option will government have?
A side note here is the targets in the contracts. Now that huge swathes of procurement and contract information are freely available via Contracts Finder it is possible to see just what each Prime has signed up for. If the Social Market Foundation thought the DWP's own target's were unachievable, they should see the even larger figures certain primes have committed to.