Contracts for welfare-to-work services under the New Deal scheme will be extended until the government’s new Work Programme begins in June, the employment minister Chris Grayling has announced.
The contracts were due to be terminated in April, and at a select committee hearing earlier this month, charities delivering New Deal contracts warned that there would be a gap between their contracts expiring and the start of the Work Programme.
This meant, they said, that charities and other groups delivering the contracts would have to make staff redundant and then hire them again if they were appointed as subcontractors under the Work Programme.
Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, chair of the committee, raised the concern in a letter to Grayling. He wrote back earlier this week, saying: "I am happy to confirm the government’s commitment to ensuring that there are no gaps in provision and that we will be working with our suppliers to extend referrals to existing mainstream support for jobseekers until June 2011."
Jonny Boux, head of employment and training links at Community Links, which works with disadvantaged people in east London, gave evidence at the select committee hearing.
"We are delighted that the government has listened to concerns from us and other organisations," he told Third Sector. "Had they not extended New Deal it would have meant a gap in provision for jobseekers and real budgeting problems for organisations like ours."
The Work Programme is part of a series of welfare reforms being introduced by the government. Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, will outline details of the Welfare Reform Bill today.