This sector, which covers multiple departments, agencies and other public bodies in their roles of providing the right skills and training opportunities for the modern workforce, is central to cross-party ambitions of optimum employment from a highly skilled population able to compete in a world market.
The NAO audits the financial statements of the government bodies involved, including Jobcentre Plus and the Learning Skills Council, as well as non-departmental public bodies and other public/commercial sector ventures.
We also undertake a range of VfM examinations across the sector, focusing on the effectiveness of bodies and programmes in delivering a competitive workforce.
Remploy and the Department for Work & Pensions completed the disposal of Remploy factories within a tight timetable and below budget.
BIS will not be well-placed to secure value for money on student loan repayments until it has a more robust strategy to improve collection performance.
Universal Credit plans were driven by an ambitious timescale, and this led to the adoption of a new approach. The programme suffered from weak management and ineffective control.
The Comptroller and Auditor General has qualified his audit opinion on the regularity of the National Employment Savings Trust Corporation’s 2012-13 Annual Report and Accounts, on the ground that the Corporation incurred fraudulent expenditure in the year.
The jobcentre network has coped well in the economic downturn, but must improve performance measures if it is to support claimants effectively.
Reported fraud in Employment Programmes is low despite past flaws such as in the New Deal. New improvement controls are better, yet risks remain.
“Train to Gain is achieving growth in training that employers value, but taxpayers have a right to expect that much more than half of the public funding should result in training that would not otherwise have occurred. Inconsistent management contributed to a slow start to the programme, followed by rapid growth and now the risk of demand exceeding budgets. We also need to see evidence that money is directed more to areas of greatest need, with training providers who do the best job for their learners and on bringing the whole range of business benefits to employers.”
“Greater awareness of the numbers of people with autism, as well as better understanding of autism amongst those providing health, social care, benefits, education and employment services, would lead to improved quality of life for those on the autistic spectrum. Specialist support and joint working across all areas – clinical, social and employment – could improve the transition from childhood to adult services, make services more effective and improve value for money.”
“The Department has made a determined effort to reduce reliance on burdensome long letters and piles of leaflets and has improved the efficiency of its communications with customers. It could, however, improve performance further by moving more of its services online. Where paper forms and letters are still necessary, it should make them more straightforward for the customer, particularly for the elderly and other vulnerable people.”
“Whilst there is general satisfaction with the services customers receive from the Department and its Agencies, there is scope to handle complaints better. The three Agencies need to record accurately customer complaints so that they can identify where they are not meeting customer needs and can improve services accordingly. Agencies also need to do more to understand why some customers are dissatisfied with the handling of their complaints.”