Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
On the Work Programme can a participant be forced to undertake an NVQ as a Mandatory Activity. Can a Work Programme participant be forced to undertake an unpaid Work Placement in a Commercial Organisation, when it is an integrated part of an NVQ?
Minister Chris Grayling recently stated:
Chris Grayling: Yes, because that goes against the principle of the system. We do not have, and would not wish to have, the power to apply any kind of mandate to work for a commercial organisation like that because if we did, and it went wrong, we would lose the opportunity for other people in the future and there would be no point.
Chris Grayling: There is no evidence to suggest that has happened, and indeed all of our Work Programme providers said to us, “What would be the point of forcing somebody to go and work for one of our commercial partners, because if we did we would lose the opportunity to send other people in the future?” What we have done since the Work Experience row is sat down with our Work Programme providers and agreed with them that they will pursue exactly the same strategy as us nationally for the Work Experience scheme. They have the power to mandate but they will only mandate to community benefit projects. All participation in Work Experience with commercial organisations will be done on a voluntary basis in the Work Programme as well as through Jobcentre Plus. So we have exactly the same rules applied across the board and we are making sure all the guidance is in line with that.
The minister suggested that any unpaid benfits only NVQ Work Placement in a Commercial Organisation cannot be a Mandatory Activity, please provide information you hold that confirms this.
Can you also confirm that anyone who becomes an Apprentice via the Work Programme means the Provider will get outcome payments and the Apprentice employer will be able to claim an Apprentice incentive or wage incentive for a young person?
If a Work Programme Provider says a participant is an Apprentice doing an NVQ2 for 6 months, should they be getting an Apprentice wage? Or can the 6 month NVQ be undertaken whilst claiming JSA and the integrated Work Placement being unpaid? Should all Apprenticeships organised through the Work Programme be for a minimum of 12 months?
Does a participant on the Work Programme have to accept an offer of an Apprenticeship, or be subject to benefit sanctions? Do Employment of Trial rules apply to Apprenticeship schemes?
Has the DWP issued guidance to Work Programme providers that NVQs should not be used alongside unpaid mandatory or voluntary work placements that can last many months, some 12 some more? If so please provide a copy.
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