The DFN Foundation supports new ‘Commissioning Excellence’ report from The Centre for Social Justice

Posted on: 25th March 2020.

The DFN Foundation has supported research by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in creating a new report that outlines a radical policy proposal for overhauling the Government’s disability aid scheme.

The Commissioning Excellence report aims to radically reassess the commissioning of nationally contracted provision for disabled people, whilst preventing small charities from being squeezed out of the race for government cash to help disabled people into work. This comes as the Government commits to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

The report sets out the true state of the so called ‘disability employment gap’ which hasn’t seen any improvement in over a decade. If you are disabled you are thirty per cent less likely to be in work than your non-disabled counterparts, a figure that has remained largely unchanged despite billions spent on focused employment programmes. Those with learning disabilities fare even worse; just 1-in-20 people with a learning disability have a job.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there are approximately 900,000 disabled people who are currently not in work but who want to work.

There are 7.7 million working-age disabled people in the UK, of whom 53.6 per cent (4.1 million) are in work. This compares to an employment rate of 81.9 per cent for working-age non-disabled people – meaning there is an employment gap of 28.2 per cent.

The report explores that the Government has adopted practices within its commissioning processes that have squeezed out small voluntary organisations that offer specialist and local knowledge that could be a lifeline to helping vulnerable people into employment. Effectively, service provision is dominated by a cartel of big companies.

Short-sighted and onerous funding models have also prohibited smaller organisations from bidding for contracts and encouraging gaming within the system. The paper calls for a more transparent contract procurement system, where the Government would be required to issue a document outlining who has been awarded the aid contracts and why, and broadening the search for aid providers by considering a wider range of special needs.

But its most radical proposal is to question the burgeoning influence of large-scale providers by aiming to localise and integrate disability aid provision, so that efficiency and specificity are centre stage.

Service providers should be rewarded for quality of outcomes, rather than their size or national reach which could drastically improve the way in which taxpayer money is spent and address local needs more accurately. The CSJ advocates a Social Impact Bond (SIB), which would give smaller providers a chance to compete for aid contracts, while excluding the public purse from the financial risk involved.

David Forbes-Nixon, CEO of Alcentra and Chairman of the DFN Charitable Foundation and DFN Project SEARCH, said:

"We are strong supporters of the recommendations outlined by the CSJ in this report and I believe that a policy overhaul is essential for much needed transformative change, so we can strive towards a more inclusive society that will bring fairer employment outcomes for young people with disabilities.".

"Implementing change will help to break the negative cycle for a lot of people with disability when it comes to employment and in today’s society we need the balance to be redressed and the huge benefits of a diverse workforce recognised and celebrated.".

Click here to access the full report….

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