The Work Programme

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Summary & aims

In 2011, the UK government launched the Work Programme as its flagship scheme, replacing a multitude of previous welfare-to-work initiatives. It goes further than any previous such programmes in contracting out the delivery of support for jobseekers to a variety of private and not-for-profit providers, under a payment-by-results model. The programme uses a ‘black box’ approach under which the government no longer prescribes the nature of the support to be provided and providers decide their own interventions. NIESR is carrying out a full and in-depth evaluation of the programme with a consortium of other research organisations - the Institute for Employment Studies, the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion and GFK.



The evaluation includes a number of different stages, methods and approaches. They include an evaluation of the approach to commissioning the Programme, through interviews with prime providers and sub-contractors and an evaluation of the programme itself through quantitative and qualitative research methods. This includes in-depth interviews with participants in the programme about their experiences of being on the Work Programme as well as interviews with programme providers and Jobcentre Plus.

Timescale and funder

The evaluation is commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions. It began in 2012 and was completed in 2014-15 when the final report was published. A number of interim reports have been published, including the first findings from qualitative research with providers, jobcentres and participants, and findings from research on procurement, the commissioning model and supply chains

Full list of outputs available here