Hain makes Pathways pledge to sector

Peter Hain, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has insisted his department is committed to involving third sector organisations in the delivery of Pathways to Work contracts.

The minister told a delegation of charity representatives, lead by chief executives body Acevo, that he did want sector involvement in future contracting exercises.

“It was clear that Peter Hain wants our involvement and he wants to make sure that happens,” said Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo. “He was concerned that we were worried about the process and that there were third sector organisations with a track record of delivery who were put off from bidding because of that process.”

Charities accused the Department for Work and Pensions of failing to provide a level playing field in the procurement process, particularly concerning the transfer of staff already employed to carry out the work (Third Sector Online, 12 September).

According to Bubb, Hain also pledged to cooperate with Acevo’s inquiry into the process, led by former civil servant Dame Mavis McDonald, and respond to the results.

The meeting was arranged after the first round of Pathways contracts was announced. Despite Government pledges to involve third sector organisations, only one – the Shaw Trust – won any of the initial 16 contracts handed out last month.

A DWP spokesman said: "Peter Hain had a valuable meeting with Stephen Bubb and other voluntary sector representatives and agreed to work with the voluntary sector and listen to their concerns.  He said his priority was to achieve value for money and what works best."

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