SEUK responds to the Government's plans to reform probation services


Bold to try to push probation reforms through when the jury’s still out on the Work Programme, says Peter Holbrook.

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s proposed reform of probation services, outlined in the Transforming Rehabilitation paper, Social Enterprise UK’s chief executive Peter Holbrook, said:

 “The Government’s plans for the reform of probation services will trigger deep sighs throughout the voluntary and social enterprise sectors. With only 16 large contracts for services outlined we fear charities and social enterprises, which simply do not have the capital needed to absorb the upfront costs associated with the payments by results model, will be unable to compete. 

“It’s bold politics to try to push these reforms through when the jury’s still out on the Work Programme. When the Government introduced the welfare-to-work scheme, charities and social enterprises were expected to deliver a healthy number of contracts, but in reality this hasn’t happened with many having to pull out. While the opportunity for social enterprises and charities to deliver public services is welcomed, the structuring of such large-scale programmes needs to change if these smaller organisations are to have any chance of successfully bidding for contracts. In light of the faltering results of the work programme, we would urge Government to give more time to properly review the reforms to make sure widespread concern with the payments by results model is addressed. 

“If Government intends to open public service markets up to the forces of marketization, it’s critical it ensures greater transparency and open book accounting of all organisations providing frontline services, and works hard to create a level playing field where social enterprises and charities are able to compete for contracts on a par with private providers.”

Read the full Transforming Rehabilitation consultation paper.