One charity and one partnership involving a charity have been appointed as prime contractors under the government’s Work Programme, set up to combat unemployment.The Careers Development Group, a national welfare-to-work charity, will be one of three prime contractors in east London, alongside the private firms A4e and Seetec.
Rehab JobFit, a partnership between the Rehab Group, a charity based in Dublin, and the support services company Interserve, will be one of the prime contractors in Wales and in south-west England.
The programme has 40 prime contracts in 18 regions. A total of sixteen private sector firms have been appointed as prime contractors.
A statement from the Department for Work and Pensions said 289 voluntary sector organisations would be subcontractors under the programme. These include Mencap, Citizen’s Advice, the Prince’s Trust and Action for Blind People.
The statement said organisations would be paid on a payment-by-results model based on the savings to the public purse that resulted from getting people back into work.
It added that the total value of the Work Programme would be between £3bn and £5bn over seven years.
A spokesman for the Careers Development Group said it had appointed 15 organisations as subcontractors, nine of which were charities. Two were public sector organisations and four were private sector firms, he said.
Seb Elsworth, director of strategy at the chief executives body Acevo, said: "It’s disappointing not to see more voluntary sector organisations as lead providers, but this is largely because of the difficulties many face in accessing the capital needed for payment-by-results contracts.
"I hope that the Big Society Bank and the development of social investment will make it easier for more voluntary sector organisations to access capital that allows them to deliver programmes like this in future."
A spokeswoman for the third sector bidding consortium 3SC said it was in talks with some of the prime contractors about subcontracting. The number of voluntary sector subcontractors was likely to rise over the next month as more charities negotiated with the prime contractors to deliver subcontracts, she said.
The environmental charity BTCV, which was unsuccessful in its bid to be a prime contractor, issued a statement that said: "We are obviously disappointed by today’s announcement. We believe that voluntary sector involvement, as a prime contractor, could have provided an ideal demonstration of the big society in action."
The new Work Programme will begin in June.