Voluntary groups overlooked in Flexible New Deal contracts

The Wise Group and Mission Australia are only charities in preferred bidders

Voluntary organisations are unlikely to win many of the lucrative 24 Flexible New Deal contracts awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DWP announced its list of preferred bidders on Friday and it is highly likely that all will go on to sign contracts.

Scottish social enterprise The Wise Group was named as a preferred bidder for a contract in Scotland.

Working Links, a public-private-voluntary sector partnership that includes the charity Mission Australia, is set to land four five-year contracts worth £550m. No other voluntary organisations have been selected.

Large private companies have emerged as the most successful bidders, with A4e named as preferred bidder in five areas and Serco in four areas.

Flexible New Deal replaces the old New Deal scheme that has been the cornerstone of Labour's plans to get the long-term unemployed back in work since 1997.

The Shaw Trust bid unsuccessfully for nine contracts.

A spokeswoman said the charity was "disappointed". She added: "We feel that we made a sensible and practical bid in light of the current economic climate."

A spokesman for Working Links said charities were likely to be involved as sub-contractors in many of the bids once the prime contractors had been officially selected.

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