‘Creaming’ and ‘parking’ are endemic concerns within quasi-marketised welfare-to-work (WTW) systems internationally, and the UK's flagship Work Programme for the long-term unemployed is something of an international pioneer of WTW delivery, based on outsourcing, payment by results and provider flexibility. In the Work Programme design, providers’ incentives to ‘cream’ and ‘park’ differently positioned claimants are intended to be mitigated through the existence of nine payment groups (based on claimants' prior benefit type) into which different claimants are allocated and across which job outcome payments for providers differ. Evaluation evidence suggests however that ‘creaming’ and ‘parking’ practices remain common. This paper offers original quantitative insights into the extent of claimant variation within these payment groups, which, contrary to the government's intention, seem more likely to design in rather than design out ‘creaming’ and ‘parking’. In response, a statistical approach to differential payment setting is explored and is shown to be a viable and more effective way to design a set of alternative and empirically grounded payment groups, offering greater predictive power and value-for-money than is the case in the current Work Programme design.
Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008 there has been widespread concern with changes in the level and composition of unemployment. The phenomenon of underemployment has, however, received markedly less attention, although it too increased in extent following the start of the crisis. This article considers the consequences of underemployment for the subjective well-being of UK employees. Drawing on data from the 2006 and 2012 Employment and Skills Surveys, the article assesses how the Great Recession affected relationships between different dimensions of underemployment and well-being. The findings demonstrate that the negative wellbeing consequences of workers' dissatisfaction with opportunities to make use of their abilities became more substantial, as did the consequences of being 'hours constrained' and having an unsatisfactory workload. The article also shows that the economic crisis had a negative impact on the well-being of employees who work very long hours.
The twin thrusts of neoliberal paternalism have in recent decades become fused elements of diverse reform agendas across the advanced economies yet neoliberalism and paternalism present radically divergent and even contradictory views of the subject across four key spaces of ontology, teleology, deontology and ascetics. These internal fractures in the conceptual and resulting policy framework of neoliberal paternalism present considerable risks around unintended policy mismatch across these four spaces or, alternatively, offer significant flexibility by policymakers. This UK C approach to the unemployed and outlines a current policy approach to employment activation that is filled with ambiguity, inconsistency and contradiction in its understanding of the subject, the , and the policy .
Well-being and employment activation have become central and intertwined policy priorities across advanced economies, with the mandation of unemployed claimants towards employability interventions (e.g. curriculum vitae preparation and interview skills). Compelled job search and job transitions are in part justified by the well-being gains that resulting employment is said to deliver. However, this dominant focus within the activation field on outcome well-being -the well-being improvement triggered by a transition to paid work -neglects how participation in activation schemes can itself affect well-being levels for unemployed people -what we term 'process wellbeing' effects. Combining theoretical literature with empirical work on the UK's large-scale quasi-marketized Work Programme activation scheme, we develop the limited existing academic discussion of process well-being effects, considering whether and how activation participation mediates the negative well-being effects of unemployment, irrespective of any employment outcomes. We further relate variation in such process well-being effects to the literature on activation typologies, in which 'thinner' work-first activation interventions are linked to weaker process well-being effects for participants compared to 'thicker' human capital development interventions. Confirming these expectations, our empirical work shows that Work Programme participants have, to date, experienced a largely 'thin' activation regime in which participants are both expected to, and empirically demonstrate, similar if not lower levels of process well-being than those who are openly unemployed. These concerning findings speak to all nations seeking to promote the well-being of unemployed people and particularly those perusing 'black box' activation schemes based around quasi-marketization, devolution and New Public Management.
The UK has been a high profile policy innovator in welfare-to-work provision which has led in the
Coalition government's Work Programme to a fully outsourced, ‘black box’ model
with payments based overwhelmingly on job outcome results. A perennial fear in such programmes is
providers' incentives to ‘cream’ and ‘park’ claimants, and the
Department for Work and Pensions has sought to mitigate such provider behaviours through Work
Programme design, particularly via the use of claimant groups and differential pricing. In this
article, we draw on a qualitative study of providers in the programme alongside quantitative
analysis of published performance data to explore evidence around creaming and parking. The
combination of the quantitative and qualitative evidence suggest that creaming and parking are
widespread, seem systematically embedded within the Work Programme, and are driven by a combination
of intense cost-pressures and extremely ambitious performance targets alongside overly diverse
claimant groups and inadequately calibrated differentiated payment levels.
Mirroring changes across nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, recent UK governments have redrawn lone parents' entitlement to social assistance benefits ever tighter around participation in the labour market. A radical shift since 2008 has been the gradual transfer of most non-employed lone parents into the 'activating' Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) regime. The enhanced conditionality requirements of this JSA regime have been justified by both paternalistic and contractualist arguments but, however justified, are built on the premise that behavioural factors drive lone parent employment outcomes, a view made increasingly forcefully under the current Coalition government. This article uses up-to-date administrative data at local authority level across England to provide a geographical perspective into the sub-national changes in lone parent employment outcomes since the transfer to JSA from 2008, as well as the relevant importance of the alternative structural and behavioural accounts to these outcomes. The findings suggest that the JSA transfer has increased lone parent employment, that structural rather than behavioural drivers are more relevant causal factors and that there is good reason to be concerned about the effect of the reforms on the well-being of lone parents and their children.
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