Instead, lets take a break from the 'sound, rational arguments' and have a look at the submissions from the CRCs and see what they want from Bob Neill's TR inquiry. Basically they all whinge, Working Links being the most vociferous in this regard, closely followed by MTCnovo who in true Canute-style just state categorically that "The principles of TR are sound."
On this basis and without a hint of shame, the newcomers to probation go on to make a bold bid to take over NPS so that "TR reforms can be completed by moving to a unified and holistic approach to the delivery of probation services." Other than this, the CRCs position can be broadly summarised as wanting more money and more time:-
"The Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have made very substantial losses on delivery of the contracts. Independent auditors EY, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), have calculated these losses to March 2017. Losses will continue to increase substantially to the end of the contracts in 2022. These numbers are commercially sensitive, as you will appreciate, and we are seeking a meeting with the Chairman of the Committee to share the information in a private, confidential way to assure you on the validity of these points."MTCnovo:-
"The uncertainty around funding has been a significant challenge since the commencement of the TR contract in February 2015. The MoJ has sought to directly address these issues and we welcome the changes that have been made, but there is more to be done if they are to be effective."
"The next step in the TR reforms would be to complete what has been started and extend the outsourcing of probation to the NPS to avoid fragmentation of service, introduce innovation of service delivery, to realise efficiencies and introduce further transparency."Interserve:-
"We think that there are flaws within TR contracts that need to be addressed. We are keen to work closely with the MoJ to ensure that the necessary changes are made to ensure that TR is put on a long term and sustainable footing."
"Rushing to judge new complex operations without allowing time for the contracting arrangements to mature, or for providers to bed themselves in is, in our view, to expect the unachievable. Good providers will deliver good services."Sodexo:-
"The Government introduced a change to the Payment Mechanism in July 2017 which marginally increased (+4%) funding levels from interim billing arrangements in place from January 2016. The funding level was still 9% lower than the levels at contract commencement in 2015. The increase in revenue has had limited impact in additional funding available for investing in service provision and the operating model has been reduced from the original ambition in line with the reduced income."
"CRC contracts would benefit from using the option to increase from 7 to 10 years to support further business stability and move to business as usual after what has been an intensive transformation."RRP:-
"Broadly speaking, July’s settlement has allowed RRP to continue to provide services at pre-existing levels. It has not been sufficient to enable further investments. Without further funding for Intermediate Outcomes and TTG services RRP's contracts will become increasingly loss-making in the future with likely consequential impacts on service continuity and quality. These losses could rise substantially if issues with the Frequency PbR mechanism are not resolved."
"Our CRCs are in the early stages of their development and we would want to see sufficient time pass so that their innovation and impact can be measured."Seetec:-
"Due to the nature of the response please refer to the ‘Commercially Sensitive’ response paper." [we need more money]
"CRC’s were awarded contracts for 7 years with the possibility of a further 3 year extension. In view of the scale and complexity of the contracts it is difficult to see how Transforming Rehabilitation can be meaningfully evaluated prior to the end of the 7 year term."Although not a player in the probation field yet, it hasn't stopped cheeky Serco from chipping in their thoughts on the whole TR omnishambles and this takes the biscuit I think:-
(c) What should be the Government’s priorities to improve work between departments on the delivery of services needed for effective rehabilitation?
"One Government priority that is often overlooked should be to create a level playing field. Currently public sector organisations operate a culture, driven by the power of the trade unions, where there is a refusal to accept that poor performance should carry personal consequence. Failure is tolerated and then often accommodated as individuals who persistently under-perform are moved into other roles rather than exited. This creates an institutional inertia that pervades the entire public sector side of any operational relationship. On the private sector side, commercial organisations tend to trim resources to achieve the easiest outcomes. In this respect, Payment by Results (PbR) when combined with input-based KPIs is completely the wrong type of contractual mechanism to operate in the justice field. Government must understand the notion that people who work inside the criminal justice profession are vocation-driven, first and foremost – introduce mechanisms that reward vocation and the results could be staggering."I haven't forgotten about Durham Tees Valley, but seeing as they are the only non-commercial CRC, I'll devote a blog post to them next week.
Thanks to the reader for pointing out the omission of People Plus. Their submission was the shortest by far, just four paragraphs asking for more money:-
"As with all other CRCs, we have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice to find a solution to these issues culminating in a variation to all CRC contracts in July 2017.
Whilst this change has brought about greater financial certainty and stability, challenges still remain with the payment mechanism. We are committed to working with the Ministry of Justice to respond to those challenges and welcome their commitment to continue the work started under the probation system review."