GO Lab post-mortem on Transforming Rehabilitation
- 14 May 2019
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: News
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has just published its report into the slow-motion trainwreck of the MoJ’s Transforming Rehabilitation project — and it’s not pretty. The GO Lab has pushed out a quick summary on its blog, which isn’t exactly pulling the punches either:
Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) was developed under Chris Grayling, a politician with serious pedigree in bombastic Payment by Results experiments: the large-scale and now defunct Work Programme was also his baby. TR was a particularly extreme form of experiment, where major responsibilities were to be passed on to private sector providers. When the contracts went out to tender, they already sought to reduce the cost to government of delivering on these responsibilities. This downward cost pressure was made worse because the providers who eventually won had ‘underbid’ to assure themselves of winning tenders. Alongside this issue of funding insufficiency, the government lacked assurances around minimum services standards and didn’t subject providers to enough scrutiny. Amongst all this, the people who the services were to be for – ex-offenders – had no voice whatsoever.
Ouch. But there’s more:
Like the Work Programme, it used payment-by-results, where some payment (in the case of TR) or all of it (in the case the work programme) was withheld until the provider showed evidence that it had achieved the objectives desired (like less re-offending or more welfare users in work). Also like the Work Programme, it used so-called ‘black box’ commissioning, where the private provider has total flexibility on how they run services.
Research into both TR and the Work Programme has identified that the combination of risky innovations with failures of implementation exposed both the government and providers to a constellation of risks. The contracts were not able to balance tensions between the government’s desire for efficiency, service users’ need for quality, and private providers’ profit-seeking.
That sound you can hear? Tens of thousands of advocates for renationalisation muttering “I told you so”. The full PAC report can be downloaded from the Parliamentary publications website.