Saturday, 7 April 2018

Charities Subsidising TR - Shock!

I see there's been another report on how the third sector have been royally-shafted by TR. This on the Civil Society website:-

Charities subsidising £900m government rehabilitation programme

Charities providing services for the government’s £900m Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) scheme are using money from their own reserves to deliver contracts, according to umbrella body Clinks. Clinks has been reviewing the programme’s delivery since it launched in 2014. Speaking to Charity Finance magazine this week, chief executive Anne Fox said its latest survey results show an increasingly negative response from charities. 

Fox said half of respondents reported a negative impact on their organisation of the TR programme, up from 40 per cent in a similar survey the year before. She said charities are particularly losing out in procurement of services for high-risk-of-harm offenders through the National Probation Service (NPS). “So few of our members are actually getting money from the NPS, and that is a problem because there is a definite offer in the voluntary sector for high-risk-of-harm offenders.”

Charities subsiding contracts
For lower-risk offenders, services are procured through 21 regional community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) using a mechanism called a rate card. Fox said the rate card causes “confusion and problems” and that CRCs can charge an additional cost to charities for offering the service.

Fox said a third of organisations getting money from CRCs are using money from their own reserves, and a third are using other sources to subsidise services. In addition, Fox said there has been a shift away from local authority funding, with only a quarter of respondents to Clinks’ survey being funded through councils, compared to two-fifths in the previous survey. Fox said it is unclear whether this shortfall has been filled by an increase in public donations or by charities setting up their own social enterprises. She said:
 “We have seen some organisations setting up social enterprises with cafés or different things like that in their area. Often it is to provide training and employment opportunities for their clients that are not being funded in other ways. There is a view that these services should be funded by the public purse, but in reality the majority of funding is not coming from there.”
‘Model needs to be revised’
Fox added: “The general thing is about size. The bigger you are, the more scalable you are, and the more likely you are to get any work in the first place. We’ve seen a driving out of small and specialist providers. The model needs to be revised and one of the first things to go would be the rate card. The Transforming Rehabilitation system is reliant on organisations taking unpaid work.”

Meanwhile, Beth Murray, director of communications and engagement at Catch22, which delivers some services for the TR programme, said her organisation was frustrated with the scheme’s initial tendering process after failing to be selected as a prime provider.

She said: “There was an opportunity for a seismic shift in how the voluntary sector engages with justice, but it simply didn’t shape out like that. Contracts have been designed in such a way that bureaucracy has taken over a little and hitting the target does not necessarily mean you are achieving the best social outcome for the people that are leaving prisons.”


I'm not sure we covered news of a similar report from last year, but if we did it's worth reminding ourselves:-

Report: Charities exploited in chaotic £900m government programme

The £900m Transforming Rehabilitation programme to reform probation has been chaotic and underfunded, and has allowed large private providers to exploit small charities, according to a report published this week.

Beyond Bars: Maximising the voluntary sector's contribution in criminal justice, a report by think tank New Philanthropy Capital into charities’ role in rehabilitation and prison reform, found that the government’s flagship programme had been chaotic and underfunded.

Transforming Rehabilitation was introduced in 2014 and 2015, in order to be ready for the General Election, and involved simultaneously cutting funding, requiring an increase in provision, and transferring staff and services to new commercial providers.

Charities were encouraged to bid for prime contracts but were largely prevented from doing so because contracts were only open to organisations with a huge amount of funding on the balance sheet. Chris Grayling, then the Justice Secretary, had said he wanted Transforming Rehabilitation to offer an increased role to charities, but the report found it had been harmful to the sector.

Charities asked to work for free
The report found that charities had been used as “bid candy” – when an organisation is involved in a bid to make it look attractive but not offered any work. And it found that charities’ time had been wasted in applying for contracts that they did not win. It found that most charities now involved in the project were not fully recovering their costs. Other charities had had offenders referred to them but were not being paid at all. Yet others were only signing contracts now, two years after the programme launched.

Meanwhile, philanthropic funders were pulling out of the sector because they did not want to subsidise private profit or the public purse. “Chaotic doesn’t cover it,” one charity told the report authors.

Damaging campaigning
The report also found that Transforming Rehabilitation was damaging charities’ ability to campaign, and appeared to have silenced many charities. It found that payment-by-results programmes designed to encourage innovation had had the opposite effect, and driven charities into a risk-averse culture.

“Grass roots organisations feel they are ‘being exploited’ by some TR providers,” the report says. “With services provided through TR thin on the ground and demand increasing, providers refer to local charities outside of the supply chain, who are not only not being paid for their services, but also risk losing other funding sources by engaging. Many charity providers have pulled out over lack of clarity, which has cost them significant resource. It has been two years and some are only just signing contracts now. TR’s payment by results approach risks disincentivising organisations from working with the hardest to rehabilitate.”

IT system still not in place two years later
Separately a Parliamentary inquiry into Transforming Rehabilitation has been told that an IT system necessary to make the service work has still not been delivered, two years late, and that prime providers had received 30 per cent less referrals than expected – making it impossible to hit PbR targets. The committee also heard that rather than encouraging more volunteering and mentoring, as it was intended to do, the programme had actually made it more difficult for charities using these interventions. Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Inspector of Probation, told the committee that the process was “half-baked” and unlikely to succeed.


  1. Meanwhile this from BBC website today:-

    The use of electronic tags on offenders has increased, as the number of prisoners has dropped to its lowest level in seven years, figures show. The number of prisoners released early on electronic tags rose by more than 1,000 in seven months to 3,028.

    The Ministry of Justice said there are about 83,000 prisoners in England and Wales, down 2,000 in four months.

    BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the rise in tag use had contributed to the sudden drop. He said while jail staff would welcome the spare capacity in prisons, some governors have privately expressed concern that the expansion in the use of the tagging scheme has removed some of their discretion over the release of prisoners.

    It may also fuel fears that some offenders are being let out when they are not ready for release and may go on to commit further crimes, our correspondent added.

    The BBC understands this is the first time the number of offenders on electronic tags has surpassed the 3,000 mark since the tagging scheme - known as HDC (home detention curfew) - began in 1999. The last time the prisoner population was this low was in January 2011.

    HDC - introduced by Labour - sees prisoners freed between two weeks and four-and-a-half months before their automatic release date. They are made to wear a tag and abide by a curfew.

    In February, it emerged that ministers had simplified the rules around granting HDC to ensure it became a "normal part of release", because only a fifth of eligible offenders were being let out.

    The scheme is available for those sentenced to at least three months' imprisonment. HDC is not available for sex offenders, people convicted of terrorism offences and certain violent criminals.

    A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "While we have said that we want to see the prison population come down, we are clear that public safety is paramount. No one will be allowed out of prison without a thorough risk-assessment, strict license conditions, and close monitoring. If someone has committed a crime found worthy of a custodial sentence, we will not hesitate to lock them up."

    1. More spaces in prisons to fill up, and more unsuitable prisoners released on tag likely to increase the recall rate.
      Must be aiming for 100 thousand prison capacity by 2020.
      And given the relaxation in HDC criteria, this new algorithm seems odd.

    2. Thousands of prisoners are being rated according to their chances of being involved in violence and disturbances under a new scheme to tackle the jails safety crisis.

      Inmates are given a “score” based on their perceived likelihood of participating in assaults, fights or riots. Staff can use the data to inform decisions such as what wing an individual is placed in and prisoners’ activity and work programmes.

      The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed to the Press Association that the “digital reporting tool” is being piloted in 16 jails. It is expected to be rolled out across the estate following positive feedback from officers and governors.

      Details about new incidents are logged on the database shortly after they take place, which can result in new scores being generated. Inmates’ “violence scores” can change to take into account improvements or deteriorations in their behaviour.

      An MoJ spokesman said: “We are currently piloting a digital reporting tool in 16 prisons across the UK. The application sorts and analyses live operational data, providing an overview of prisoner behaviour to inform decisions about offender management. The aim of the pilot is to arm prison officers with the very latest information in order to help them improve prison safety. Feedback has been extremely positive and we are considering rolling the tool out across the estate. We are committed to ensuring our prisons are safe environments which allow offenders to effectively rehabilitate and turn away from a life of crime.”

      Details of the scheme were first set out by Dr Jonathan Roberts, head of the MoJ’s data science hub, at a conference in Canberra last month. He said the tool has been “incredibly well-welcomed”, the website ZDNet reported.

      There were a record 28,165 assault incidents in jails in the 12 months to September 2017, including 7,828 attacks on staff. A string of major disturbances also erupted at the height of the crisis.

      Other tactics being explored include proposals to transfer inmates with gang links to higher-security establishments to choke off the influence of criminal kingpins.

      Ministers are also looking at whether the incentives regime can be used more effectively – including the possibility of offering well-behaved prisoners extra contact time with family members using technology such as Skype.

      The prisons where the data tool has been piloted are Cookham Wood, Exeter, Gartree, Haverigg, Huntercombe, Leicester, Liverpool, Norwich, Pentonville, Bullingdon, Preston, Stocken, Swaleside, Wymott, Cardiff and Doncaster.

    3. Now then, MoJ, look what happens when you remove a vast swarhe of experienced skilled professionaks from the Probation & Prison Services... you have to pay some numpty £millions to "create" an algorithm that assesses risk. Remember OASys? That was a fuck up too. Will you ever learn? No! I can't wait to read MoJ's PR about lowest prisoner numbers since the beginning of time, etc etc etc, with Young Rory sunging the praises.

    4. Looks like they're working towards the sort of justice system in Minority Report.

  2. It's my view that the third sector and the private sector are just two heads of the same dog. They structure their corporate arrangements very similar, and reward those at the top with obscene amounts of money and associated benefits.
    The third sector get government funding, EU funding, Lottery funding, have reduced business rates and tax and VAT breaks. They also benefit greatly from a huge amount of unpaid labour carried out by volunteers.
    Yet they're still prepared to involve themselves in anything that can bring in a few quid despite what reputational damage it attracts. The work programme being just one.
    The private sector get millions from government contracts, local councils, PCCs. They're allowed to limit their liabilities despite the vast amounts of money that they pay to shareholders, and can hide pretty much anything they want through a corporate confidentiality clause.
    It doesn't seem to matter that every inspection and report produced shows damning failures and poor practice, its always a cry for more money. More, more, more!
    It's high time the government gave both sectors a good hard kick up the arse, and remind them that when they're using public funds they need to be honest brokers, and deliver the services that are being paid for in the way they need to be provided.
    TR is in its fourth year, the conversation should be about how to improve services and working conditions, and not about how the spoils should be shared out.