Is fraud in welfare to work a thing of the past?
Ipswich Unemployed Action can reveal that since the Work Programme commenced the DWP has sent memos out to providers at least THRICE (3 times) to clarify particulars in particular relating to job outcomes and attachment fees that are already readily available and clearly set out in the contract and guidance.
It appears some providers are making claims with irregularities – we aren’t suggesting this is fraud; it could be a common mistake without intent of malice; but appears to be rather widespread.
A4e (in particular its employees) has been found guilty of fraud on New Deal and Flexible New Deal… can they now make the triple and make it the Work Programme also? (Yes, they had more contracts than these, for the purposes of this thrice should suffice?)
Some whistleblowers seem to think so.
Requirement for Clarification of The Work Programme Job Outcome definition.
The Work Programme Job Outcome definition has been detailed in both the Invitation to Tender and Provider Guidance. This clarification expands upon the published definitions.
In the Work Programme Invitation to Tender, we stipulated that the conditions for a Job Outcome payment were:
- the Job Outcome is after the Job Start date; and
- a participant has been in employment and off benefit each week: and
- there has been either a continuous or cumulative individual period of employment (Job Outcome payment trigger point) as defined for each participant group.
In the Work Programme Provider Guide:
A Job Outcome payment can be claimed when:
There has been either a continuous or cumulative period of employment (Job Outcome payment trigger point) as defined for each claimant group in Annex 1; a participant has been in employment and off benefit in each week of the period (a week is defined as a 7 day period); and the job outcome is after the Job Start date.
The memo continues….
Work Programme Job Outcome Clarification
The Work Programme is designed to maximise the time spent off benefit and in sustained work. The funding model and definitions are designed to reflect the time spent off benefit and Job Outcome payments are determined by the type of benefit claimed and the length of time spent off benefit due to employment.
The days accumulated towards the achievement of the designated duration of employment for a job outcome can be isolated days, blocks of days or weeks. Where a single day or accumulation of days within a week, from each job start day, removes a full seven days of benefit (there is no claim to benefit) the full seven days (one week) can be counted towards the job outcome.
Days in work that do not remove a claim for a whole weeks benefit will count each day that benefit is not claimed. Employment of less than a week can never count as more than a week of ‘no claim’.
The first job start date within the relevant Job Outcome period may be counted as one or seven days depending on level of remuneration for the employment and the day that it falls within a benefit week.
After 104 weeks of allotted time there can be no breaks in employment longer than 2 days regardless of benefit status.
The anticipation is that Job Outcomes composed of fragmented days (less than a week) of ‘no claim’ to benefit will be rare but this definition of a Job Outcome does allow additional jobs to be paid that would not have been paid in previous provision. Clearly jobs composed of multiple spells of employment and time of ‘no claim’ to benefit will be more difficult to track and evidence.
During the 104 weeks allotted time the participant is on the Work Programme and providers can maintain contact and establish benefit status to inform tracking and claims
It is important that there is an awareness of the impact on individual Work Programme participants of closing benefit claims; associated benefits may accrue to continuing benefit claims. ‘Better-Off’ calculations undertaken by providers may offer a means of assessing the impact of employment on income. The interests of the Work Programme participant are paramount.
The memo continues (just in case it was too difficult to understand):
Work Programme Job Outcome Concise Version
The Work Programme Job Outcome definition assumes as a principle a duration of days (counted in blocks of up to a week) where there is no claim to benefit as a consequence of employment.
Periods of ‘no claim’ (where there is no open claim to benefit) due to employment are counted in blocks of a week or part week. Where there is any period of up to a week where there is ‘no claim’ to benefit the week or part week can be counted towards the designated duration of a job outcome.
The job outcome duration is defined in weeks and counted in component days.
Please note – Any claim for a Job Outcome must include an initial Job that started after the Attachment date.
Further guidance on this issue is to be sent in a further Provider Memo soon.
See Chapter 15 of the Provider Guidance (Standard Definitions for The Work Programme) for further information.
Another memo (just a snippet):-
1. The Work Programme has been live now for some time and a number of issues have arisen regarding the attachment of claimants.
2. This memo is a reminder of the action you should undertake before registering the attachment on the Provider Referrals and Payments System (PRaP)
Summary and action
3. As a minimum you must engage with each claimant on an individual basis. You should discuss the programme itself and the next steps they will take whilst on provision.
4. You should keep evidence of this discussion and issue (in writing) to the participant details of any mandatory activities you are expecting them to undertake.
5. Only after this engagement activity has taken place should you undertake the attachment activity in PRaP for that individual.
And another memo:-
1. We want to clarify the processes to be undertaken should a claimant receive an offer of a job between their Work Programme referral interview, and prior to attachment.
It continues (leaving out some of it)…
5. Should you contact a claimant (following referral) who has already started work, you must not undertake attachment activity
6. If you are not notified in advance of the job start date, it would not be appropriate to undertake the specified engagement activity and you must not attach the claimant to your provision at this time.
Lets hope the providers are “Doing well by doing good“.