The task force will be chaired by Tony Hawkhead, the chief executive of Groundwork UK, and will report to secretary of state for work and pensions James Purnell and employment and welfare minister Stephen Timms.
The task force has been charged with:
- Identifying any barriers to the sector's involvement in welfare to work reform, and recommending improvements
- Recognising good practice that could be replicated
- Clarifying what the sector can bring to welfare to work reform that others cannot
"My vision for the task force is to focus on key issues and give clear guidance on how we can best harness the enormous potential of the third sector to provide innovative solutions," said Hawkhead.
Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said the task force was a significant step towards involving the sector. "I expect it to result in a step-change in DWP-third sector relations," he said.
Shadow charities minister Greg Clark said: "We have long known that the voluntary sector can make a huge contribution to helping move people off welfare and into work. This is another example of the where the Conservatives are leading and the Government is following."
The task force will meet for the first time on 17 June and once a month thereafter. It will report back in January 2009.
Last month, Acevo held a meeting with several Government departments to try to increase the number of public services contracts for charities (Third Sector, 7 May). The summit came after an independent report commissioned by Acevo on the DWP's Pathways to Work procurement process, under which voluntary sector organisations missed out on the bulk of contracts to provide back-to-work services for people on incapacity benefit (Third Sector Online, 23 November 2007).