Author: Clare Hammond

/ Articles posted by Clare Hammond
Investing in our People – learning from the New Zealand ‘Investment Approach to Welfare’

Investing in our People – learning from the New Zealand ‘Investment Approach to Welfare’

The evolution of Work Programme (and its devolution to Scottish Government), reducing public budgets, and the increasing welfare element in City Deals provide an opportunity to think radically about the way that we view welfare to work support in the UK. Our conversations with policy makers and providers about this opportunity has revealed a growing interest in the New Zealand ‘Investment Approach to Welfare’.

I arrived at the New Zealand Treasury around the same time the challenge to overhaul the way New Zealand thought about welfare to work support was set by the Minister of Finance. ‘I want to invest in people the same way I invest in capital assets – upfront with benefits flowing later’ appeared to be the mantra from the Cabinet table’s second in command. Nearly five years later, and after much work by Ministers and officials, New Zealand has its ‘Investment Approach to Welfare’ up and running.

…‘I want to invest in people the same way I invest in capital assets – upfront with benefits flowing later’…

The core principle underpinning the ‘Investment Approach’ is that the Government should invest now, to save later. The future cost to the Government of different welfare recipients in expected benefits and other support is estimated to create a ‘life time liability’ value. Any investment now in the individual that reduces their future liability by more than the estimate is encouraged. Here in Scotland, the ‘Investment Approach’ is consistent with the objectives of the Scottish Government Prevention Agenda.

…the ‘Investment Approach’ is consistent with the objectives of the Scottish Government Prevention Agenda…

Rocket Science spent most of 2015 working with the Dundee Local Employability Partnership in order to identify ways to increase the use of preventation in their employability services to reduce the risk of long term unemployment. To see more about our work in Dundee click here.

In the context of static or decreasing public budgets, the ‘Investment Approach’ is also used to focus and prioritise resources within the welfare budget. Those that have the highest expected future liability receive the most support, as this is where the largest future savings from intervening early are available. Those on the New Zealand equivalent of the JSA represent about 5% of the future cost to the Government, but in the past, received most of the support to help them move into work. New Zealand’s analysis confirms something that definitely rings true here in the UK:  that the real gains are to be made by investing in ESA recipients.

… the real gains are to be made by investing in ESA recipients…

The ‘Investment Approach’ is a powerful prevention communication tool and has been incredibly useful in creating a common language and objective for the New Zealand Welfare to Work agenda. With Work Programme Two and more City Deals on the horizon, the UK has a real opportunity to reconceptualise how Welfare to Work support is designed and targeted. The devolution from Westminster to Scotland for designing and delivering employability services that will succeed the current Work Programme and Work Choice support, provides the Scottish Government an opportunity to start the process of developing a distinctly Scottish Apporach to employability support. You can read more on our analysis of the public consultation responses commissioned by Scottish Government here.

New Zealand’s ‘Investment Approach’ and Rocket Science’s understanding of the approach can provide robust insights into how to better invest in our people.  Please get in touch if you want to know more!

By Clare Hammond

Clare is a Senior Consultant at Rocket Science. With a background in economics and public policy, Clare came to us from the New Zealand Treasury where she had exposure to the development and implementation of the ‘Investment Approach to Welfare’ which was spearheaded by a joint working group from the Treasury and the Ministry for Social Development. 

The Scottish Approach to employability support – our analysis of the Scottish Government public consultation

The Scottish Approach to employability support – our analysis of the Scottish Government public consultation

The Scottish Government has received devolved responsibility from Westminster for designing and delivering employability services that will succeed the current Work Programme and Work Choice support. This presents an opportunity to design a distinctly Scottish Approach to employability support. As part of this, the Scottish Government ran a public consultation in 2015 to seek public views on what a ‘Scottish Approach’ should look like and how the replacement support should fit into this. Rocket Science was commissioned to analyse the responses.

215 individuals, service providers, and advocacy and support organisations responded. Following a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis we identified six key messages running through the consultation responses:

That the Scottish Approach to employability support should:

  • Have a person centred, flexible and tailored approach that considers all elements of an individual’s life that affects their employability
  • Be designed and delivered by a partnership of organisation such as central and local government, third sector, and educators
  • Focus on ‘real jobs’ through engaging with employers and creating high quality labour market intelligence, so job seekers are prepared for and directed towards jobs that exist.

That any devolved replacement programme should:

  • Be designed nationally but adapted to the local context and delivered locally
  • Involve contracts that use a combination of payment by job outcome, progression towards work, attachment fees, and should incorporate client feedback as a metric for payment
  • Target those with the highest needs, and focus a separate programme on this group to avoid them getting lost in the crowd.

The full analysis report can be found at:

https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/labour-market-and-workplace-policy/employability-support/results/creating-a-fairer-scotland—employability-support—analysis-of-responses.pdf

By Clare Hammond

Clare is a Senior Consultant at Rocket Science. With a background in economics and public policy, Clare came to us from the New Zealand Treasury where she had exposure to the development and implementation of the ‘Investment Approach to Welfare’ which was spearheaded by a joint working group from the Treasury and the Ministry for Social Development.

For more information contact Clare on 0131 226 4949

Better Business Cases – Think like a Minister?

Better Business Cases – Think like a Minister?

With the growing agenda around the devolution of powers and resources to the English regions – and further powers and resources to Scotland – there is a growing focus on the significance of business cases for both capital and revenue projects.  Our new Senior Consultant, Clare Hammond, has just joined us from the New Zealand Treasury and looks at how to cut through to the heart of what decision makers are looking for in a Business Case

 

5 case BBC picture for Blog

In both New Zealand and the UK, Government capital funding proposals are required to be accompanied by a business case. Both countries use the five case Better Business Cases model (detailed in the UK Green book). This model is outlined in figure 1. Business cases play an important role in improving the level of analysis underpinning spending decisions. They are also incredibly useful frameworks for making a case for non-capital related projects.

A business case is your key vehicle for convincing Ministers (and HMT and even spending Departments such as DWP) that your idea is worth investing in. At its core, a business case needs to make a succinct, yet comprehensive, and convincing case for change.

But amongst that several hundred page business case, Ministers and Treasury officials care most about getting answers to three questions. The most influential business cases I have seen go through Cabinet are able to clearly walk the reader through the answers to these questions.

Question One: Why do I need to do anything about this?

The public sector will tend to sweat its assets, so decision makers will often be thinking about whether they can delay the decision. This is particularly true in times of austerity, or if your asset isn’t part of a sexy headline or election winning project.

Often the case for change, while widely understood within the organisation, won’t be presented explicitly to Ministers and their advisors. Having decision makers disagree with your imperative for change can be an opinion that is difficult to shake later in the process.

In the business cases I’ve worked on, the tag line ‘the current asset isn’t fit for purpose’ is a particular favourite. To be convincing on this point, the evidence needs to outline clearly which needs are being met by the current asset, which aren’t, why, and does it really matter? If service delivery failure is a risk, being explicit about the risk tolerance assumed, and the likely outcome of service delivery failure can be useful in providing a tangible image for Ministers.

Question Two: Why is this my best option?

Most business cases are dedicated to showing how great the preferred option is. What can often be forgotten is that in arriving at the preferred option, many other options have dropped off the list. Ensuring that your business case adequately answers why the other options are not the best can be incredibly powerful in supporting your preferred option.

Question Three: How do I know this will be delivered well, on time, and to budget?

Crudely put, the key messages coming from Ministers on this are likely to be:  “Don’t come back to me for more money”, and, “I don’t want to have to clean up a PR mess if this project fails to deliver”.

These issues tend to get lost in a sea of organisational diagrams, management charts, and procurement technicalities. Stepping back and thinking about how to answer Question Three can be a useful exercise in producing a convincing case.

The most successful business cases I have seen are able to take complicated and detailed analysis and use it to convincingly answer the three questions above. To achieve this, I suggest creating a devil’s advocate within your organisation to really push around and test your answers to these questions. The criteria for selecting a good devil? Well they should be able to think like a Treasury official or Government Minister……

If you have questions on this blog, or on developing and assessing Better Business Cases more generally, please contact Clare.