Work Programme in London

LVSC has launched a second report, examining the involvement of specialist voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations in delivering the government’s Work Programme.

Fair Chance to Work 2

In March 2013, we released our second report on the Work Programme in London. Fair Chance to Work 2 analyses the first set of Work Programme performance data, reviews the experience of VCS subcontractors, and gathers evidence on the impact of the programme on the wider VCS and on disadvantaged customers.

Fair Chance to Work 2

Fair chance to work - Experiences from the first phase of Work Programme delivery in London (PDF, 2MB)

MEDIA RELEASE 22 March 2013 Fair Chance to Work 2: Vulnerable Work Programme customers need greater protection (PDF)

Fair Chance to Work 1

The Work Programme is a universal new scheme to help unemployed people back into work. However, unless VCS groups play a greater role in its delivery, there is risk that employment inequalities in London will get even worse and that the Work Programme wont deliver on its targets.

Read our report below and press release into VCS involvement in the Work Programme and employment inequalities in London.

Fair Chance to Work - VCS experiences of Work Programme in London - LVSC Oct 2011

LVSC wants to see the Work Programme get a fair chance to succeed, because every Londoner deserves a fair chance to work.

London has a highly competitive labour market and high levels of unemployment and worklessness. Lone parents, disabled people, and Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people have lower rates of employment in London than in the rest of the UK.

A mandatory and universal programme, the Work Programme has the potential to be instrumental in tackling London's persistent inequalities in employment, skills, and income.


LVSC is campaigning to increase VCS delivery within the Work Programme, to ensure that all Londoners get the kind of support they need to give them the best chance of finding work, regardless of the barriers they face.


LVSC research
LVSC has reviewed published information on Work Programme supply chains in London, and (in partnership with ACEVO) surveyed VCS subcontractors to identify concerns and issues arising at this early stage of the initiative.


A number of groups are delivering successfully at present, but there is enormous unused capacity within the sector, and we have not yet seen the 'massive boost' for VCS providers that Employment Minister Chris Grayling called for when the Work Programme began.



  • A number of VCS groups are well underway delivering 'tier 1' or 'end to end' Work Programme subcontracts and supporting Londoners back into work. However, most providers report that prime contractors have simply passed the Work Programme's high risk outcome based pricing structure on to groups in their supply chains, regardless of size or financial capacity of subcontractors.
  • TUPE obligations have imposed a considerable burden in terms of cost and resource at the very time these groups were gearing up for delivery.
  • The vast majority of specialist 'tier 2' providers have had no Work Programme customers referred to them at all.
  • There is a grave risk that the expertise of those specialist groups will be lost unless they are given greater certainty regarding the number of customers they can expect to work with.
  • Levels of confidence among VCS subcontractors that the Work Programme will succeed in meeting its minimum performance levels, or that the payments on offer will incentivise providers to help the most disadvantaged customers, are very low.
  • DWP has not yet finalised plans for monitoring the performance of the Work Programme. Careful monitoring is needed to ensure that the most disadvantaged customers are not 'parked', and that employment inequalities for groups such as lone parents, disabled people, and minority ethnic groups do not get worse.
  • We are still in the early stages of the Work Programme, and it is not too late to adjust aspects of its design to ensure it delivers fairly for the hardest to help, and that specialist VCS providers play the kind of role that the government wishes to see.



  • Specialist VCS subcontractors need greater certainty around prices and volumes, in order to make sound business planning decisions.
  • Communication between primes and supply chains needs to be improved.
  • Government must provide clear guidance about what good prime-subcontractor relationships should look like within the Work Programme.
  • DWP must properly measure and scrutinise the way the Work Programme is supporting disadvantaged groups, through its programme monitoring and evaluation processes.
  • The Work Programme pricing mechanism should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity, to ensure that outcomes for London customers are equitable with customers elsewhere in the UK; and that persistent inequalities in employment rates are being addressed and not getting worse.
  • The impact of TUPE regulations on frontline staff, primes, and subcontractors should be reviewed, so that lessons from Work Programme commissioning can be taken forward in other areas public sector reform.

For more information, contact LVSC Policy Officer Steve Kerr.