A written Ministerial Statement today from Chris Grayling set out further details of the Work Programme. Although the one page statement itself was light on specifics, it stated an aim to have the Work Programme in place nationally from the Summer of 2011. It is understood from this that FND1 contracts will now be terminated, with 12 months notice being served to prime contractors. Equally, the current tender rounds for Flexible New Deal Phase 2, The Personalised Employment Programme, and Invest to Save are effectively halted. The exact detail of Work Programme commissioning is yet to be confirmed, and the Statement provides no details about this aside from a determination “to move quickly”. It is, however, understood that the strategy will involve a new procurement model based on framework agreements, with potentially several prime providers delivering within regionally defined Contract Package Areas. To award new contracts and leave sufficient time to implement them next year will inevitably point to a short and responsive tender exercise over the immediate months ahead. Current New Deal and Employment Zone providers in FND Phase 2 areas can expect an extension of these contracts to tie in with next summer’s Work Programme launch. The statement also stated that DWP are “committed to supporting severely disabled people and are currently reviewing the best way of doing this”. This could mean that Work Choice provision, where preferred bidders are still waiting to sign contracts, may sit outside of the Work Programme. It may also see the proposed tender round to replace current Residential Training contracts ending in March 2011 remaining on DWP’s procurement agenda. Whilst this strategy was not fully unexpected by many providers, and reflective of the Conservative’s pre-election commitments, there will no doubt be further debate in terms of the commercial impact of cancelling FND1 contracts for both prime providers and their supply chains. There will be much to talk about in the series of one-to-one meetings between DWP and FND1 prime contractors that begin next Monday. DWP will clearly be hoping that FND1 primes will stay at the table, and seek to be part of the new frameworks. Graham Hoyle, Chief Executive of the Association of Learning Providers, said: “The key will be the extent to which successful FND1 contractors remain in pole position to carry on developing their support for the unemployed, something that new Minister, Lord Freud, has indicated will be the case. It would certainly be hard to argue why providers who had successfully bid for FND1 were not suitable to deliver the coalition’s new version, unless of course any had not been able to cope with the current opportunities”. The Ministerial announcement comes on the same day as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) published a report suggesting that Government spending could push UK unemployment up from its current 2.5 million to almost 3 million by the end of 2012, and remaining at this level until 2015.