3SC calls for DWP to remove unfair process from IPES tender
3SC have been waiting for the tender of the new service that will replace Specialist Employability Support (SES) for some time as we have been successfully delivering employment services for people with a disability, particularly visual impairment, for many years. We had hoped that we could bid for the new programme and continue our work supporting a large number of disabled people into sustainable work through our national network of committed third sector providers. To our disappointment the replacement service, Intensive Personalised Employment Support Service (IPES), is being tendered through the DWP’s Umbrella Agreement (UAEHRS) which means only those providers on the framework can bid for these contracts.
The DWP argues that this is the very activity that they set UAEHRS up for, but many providers could never bid for a place on the Umbrella because of the financial parameters originally set (which related to the Work and Health Programme where the individual lots where much larger). 3SC, for example, would be quite big enough to bid for many of the IPES lots if they were tendered in the standard way, but because of the process in which they are being brought to market we are unable to seek to bid as a prime. We have raised this issue with the DWP and Amber Rudd MP, as we feel that this is yet another barrier that SMEs and third sector providers face when seeking to access to public funds to deliver services that they are more than well placed to deliver well, and have been delivering to an excellent standard for many years. We have also asked for confirmation as to why a provider who does not have a place on the UAEHRS, is asking for EOIs to deliver this contract. We are still waiting for them to arrange a time to discuss these issues.
Because 3SC cannot bid directly we have completed EOIs for many of the organisations that are bidding, so we still hope that we will get access to some of the resource that this service will provide, ensuring that local, community facing, social organisations can be involved in the delivery of these services for disabled people.
Andy Shields, Head of Business Development, 3SC