Welfare to Work

DAILY MONITOR: Atos, free schools, regional growth, charities


Back to work medical tests below standard

The Daily Telegraph

UP TO 20,000 medical assessments on benefit claimants last year by the private contractor Atos failed to meet basic standards

The National Audit Office criticised the Department for Work and Pensions for failing to claw back more taxpayers’ money from the company for missing targets. Atos has a £112million a year contract to carry out back-to-work assessments on people claiming the new form of incapacity benefit. Last year it saw 738,000 people.

The Audit Office found just under four per cent of the assessments were judged to be below “professional standards” last year – the equivalent of 20,000 cases. The contract does not impose a penalty unless the failure rate goes above five per cent.

A DWP spokesman said: “Since Atos was awarded the contract under the previous government, there has been a significant amount of change.”

Commons jobs report is flawed, says Clegg

The Times
Nick Clegg has attacked as “deeply misleading” a recent report by the cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee that criticised the coalition’s regional job creation scheme.

The MPs had revealed that companies had received less than 5 per cent of the £1.4 billion allocated to the Regional Growth Fund when it was created in June 2010.

Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairwoman of the committee, described the fund’s performance as “scandalous”.

Yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister accused the MPs of having a “very old-fashioned” view of the way in which commercial projects are funded. He said that 60 per cent of the projects that received backing from the first two rounds of bidding were now under way. “About 90 per cent of the companies say the pace at which the projects are going suits them,” he said.

The MPs’ report found that by May this year the scheme had generated only 5,200 of the 36,800 jobs it was supposed to create by 2014. Mr Clegg said that so far more than 10,000 jobs had been created and protected.

How can charities improve the design and delivery of public services?

The Guardian feature
The government hopes that its Open Public Services will make public services more creative and innovative. As the voluntary sector has decades of experience in identifying, addressing and preventing inequalities, charities are well placed to improve

both the design and delivery of many public services. However, experience shows that there are significant barriers that hamper this reality. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has partnered with 14 organisations to demonstrate positive examples of charities bringing transformation and innovation to public services.

Boris Johnson unveils Free Schools plan in further power drive

The Guardian

London mayor announces a dedicated City Hall unit to secure new sites as part of a bid to control education across the capital.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced plans to set up a dedicated unit at city hall to secure new sites for free schools. The move is part of his ambition to gain strategic oversight over education across London to drive up standards further, despite the capital already outperforming the rest of the country.

The mayor, who has no formal powers over school education, will also announce on his intention to set up a “London curriculum” for lower secondary school children using the city as an “educational tool”. A new fund to promote teaching excellence and help tackle underperformance – particularly in literacy and numeracy, science, technology, engineering and maths – will also be made known. City hall said the Department for Education had given its support for the fund “in principle”, subject to further discussions.


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