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All Work Programme prime providers pass the Merlin Standard

The first assessment of all DWP Work Programme prime contractors against the Merlin Standard has now been completed. The Standard assesses the supply chain behaviours of providers against four core principles; Supply Chain Design, Commitment, Conduct and Review. Against each of these principles providers are assessed as being Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. All of the Work Programme prime contractors were rated as either Good or Satisfactory, meaning that they all meet the requirements of the Merlin Standard and have successfully gained accreditation.

The result means that all Work Programme providers will not now face a re-assessment against the Standard for two years. Merlin Standard accreditation is also a qualifying requirement for Work Programme providers to benefit from moving market share, where better performing providers may be awarded a greater share of future referral volumes in their CPA where their current performance results are notably better than their competitors.

A critical view may suggest that the Merlin Standard has added little value to the market, given that all Work Programme providers were assessed as meeting the minimum requirement at the first attempt. Equally, there is still some scepticism within the voluntary sector towards the Standard. An NCVO report in 2011 suggested that the Standard is “is too subjective to adequately regulate prime contractor behaviour” and that accreditation of prime contracts could be seen as “a forgone conclusion”. The counter argument is that the introduction of the Merlin Standard over the past three years has in itself been a positive driver on supply chain behaviours contributing to this positive set of assessment results.

The overall Merlin Standard assessment results are as follows:

Provider

Overall Outcome

Overall %

Ingeus

Good

76%

Avanta

Good

75%

Interserve Working Futures

Good

75%

Serco

Good

74%

NCG (Intraining)

Good

73%

Reed in Partnership

Good

73%

Seetec

Good

73%

A4e

Good

70%

Careers Development Group (CDG)

Good

70%

G4S Welfare to Work

Good

70%

Working Links

Good

70%

MAXIMUS Employment & Training

Satisfactory

67%

Rehab JobFit

Satisfactory

67%

JHP Group

Satisfactory

64%

EOS Works

Satisfactory

63%

ESG Holdings Ltd

Satisfactory

62%

Prospects Services Ltd

Satisfactory

61%

Pertemps People Development Group

Satisfactory

58%

The detailed assessment reports for each provider can be found at this link:

http://www.merlinstandard.co.uk/merlin-accredited-organisations.php