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This section of the literature review contains studies which focus on payment by results interventions in the worklessness sector.

The Department of Work and Pension’s Work Programme scheme which is almost all funded on a PbR basis is worth £3.3bn over 9 years, starting from its June 2011 launch.

For each study, I provide the full reference, a link to the document if available freely online and a one sentence summary.

Studies are presented in order of publication; most recent first.

Studies which I regard as of high quality or of particular interest are highlighted in bold.

You can jump to the seven other sections of research here:



House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee (2015) Welfare-to-work: Second report of Session 2015-16. London: The Stationery Office Limited.

Concludes that Work Programme is cheaper than predecessors but no better, failing to help 70% claimants.

Community Links (2015) Payment by results, Issues that Matter No. 5. London: Community Links

Very helpful perspective from provider which has delivered many PbR contracts over a number of years, recommended read for voluntary sector providers.

CESI, NIESR, IES & SPRU (2014) Work Programme evaluation: Operation of the commissioning model, finance and programme delivery, Research Report No 893. London: Department for Work & Pensions.

Comprehensive report; one of the findings is that differential pricing had little impact, creaming and parking persisted.

Rees J., Taylor R., & Damm C (2013) Does sector matter? Understanding the experiences of providers in the Work Programme. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre. 

Highlights the squeezing out of third sector organisations, low flows of clients to subcontractors and the ‘creaming and parking’ of hard to help customers.

Lane, P.; Foster, R.; Garinder, L; Lanceley, L. & Purvis, A. (2013) Work Programme evaluation: procurement, supply chains and implementation of the commissioning model. London: Department for Work and Pensions.

Comprehensive report, one key finding was how referral volumes increased from 2.5m to 3.3m in first 6 months, causing serious difficulties for new services.

Finn, D. (2013) Sub-contracting in public employment services. The European Commission Mutual Learning Programme for Public Employment Services 

Interesting review of European “Work Programmes” with good knowledge of US and Australian schemes. Covers Prime Provider models, black box contracts and more.

Finn, D. (2013) The design and delivery of ‘payment-by-results’ and ‘black box’ contracts: the case of the UK Work Programme ICJS Research Seminar Series, 27 November 2013

An authoritative review of the Work Programme with clear evidence of the emergence of “creaming and parking” with providers prioritising claimants who are most easy to help into work.

Rees, J.; Whitworth, A. & Carter, C. (2013) Support for all in the UK work programme? Differential payments, same old problem… Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre

Creaming and parking are widespread and systematically embedded within the Work Programme, driven by intense cost-pressures and extremely ambitious performance targets, overly diverse claimant groups and inadequately calibrated differentiated payment levels.

Newton, B. et al. (2012) Work Programme evaluation: Findings from the first phase of qualitative research on programme delivery. London: DWP. 

Even this very early study picked up on “creaming and parking” – provision concentrated on those most likely to find work, rather than those most in need.

Finn, D. (2010) Outcome-based commissioning: Lessons from contracting out employment and skills programmes in Australia and the USA. London: UK Commission for Employment and Skills

A very worthwhile read, good advice on how to tackle creaming and parking.

Hudson, Phillips, Ray, Vegeris & Davidson (2010) The influence of outcome-based contracting on provider-led pathways to work. London: Department of Work and Pensions.

Qualitative evaluation of Work Programme pre-cursor found that creaming and parking were considered “appropriate behaviour”.

Mansour, J. & Johnson, R. (2006) Buying quality performance: procuring effective employment services. London: Ingeus/Work Directions

The target accelerator model is an excellent solution to the challenges of creaming and parking.

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