Post by nickd (Mylegal) on May 27, 2011 21:27:49 GMT
The MOJ has released an interesting document on the HMP Peterborough and the 'Social Impact Bond'; - the significance of which, I'm sure, will have some relevance to the MoJ's blunder on how much rehabilitation of offenders will cost in true terms in cash and practicality.
I'm sure it's no mere coincidence that so many new 'models' and 'pilot projects' originate from almost within a stone's throw of a certain legal aid minister's very nice security gates, I refer of course to our old friend Jonathon Djanogly; - the Minster who just doesn't get it.
As quite aptly posted by James Sandbach on the J4A thread earlier today, it looks like the MoJ have realised their figures on rehabilitation of offenders were perhaps a little too optimistic; - the danger here is, as a result of the bungle, a further cut to legal aid than has already been proposed.
But hang fire MoJ, let's have a look at one of your beloved pilots, -the HMP Peterborough 'Social Impact Bond' which has been running since last September.
It's clearly a move towards privatisation and more effective rehabilitation of offenders with cost saving as a key objective; - fair enough, I'd say. I completely see the sense in the model but the glue which holds it all together is distinctly non-adhesive.
Reading the paper makes a fair mention of the DWP and various welfare to work initiatives, but crucially misses out our role as social welfare law specialists YET AGAIN!!
It would rather listen to report after report written by any number of eminent intellectuals, rather than the people who've spent umpteen years interviewing hundreds, even thousands of socially disadvantaged individuals. It's a shame the MoJ just doesn't engage with us more constructively - if it did, it would get somewhere.
Now come on MoJ, let's see sense here. An offender is released from Her Majesty's Pleasure, it's quite likely he or she is going to have a fair few problems, mental health in particular, and let's face it, they aren't going to be the most employable person on earth are they? There's a need to be truthful here as well as PC.
So off the offender trots to their local JCP to get some Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). And this is where the JCP and private funded welfare to work providers gets it so badly wrong.
Target driven departments will see it as their mission to get the offender off the ESA track and onto JSA, perhaps even into some kind of employment, all very well if it works out; - but it so often doesn't. Someone with let's say Paranoid Schizophrenia just isn't the most employable person in the world, they'll find it difficult to cope; as will their often less than tolerant work colleagues. If it all goes wrong the net result is one almighty disillusioned ex-offender, he or she will go off the rails just as everyone puts them down as some 'success figure'. The DWP can say they've put them back to work, the welfare to work provider can say 'yippee - where's our payment by result fee please?'.
Now, this is where our disillusioned ex-offender will fall victim to this apparent 'success' story, the CMHT can cut down on the support because all seems to be going so well; - all the right tick boxes will appear on the appropriate sheets.
But, in stark contrast to all this illusionary 'success', the ex-offender, with no effective support, will probably start to suffer increasing paranoia, perhaps even abandoning their medication. Before long our ex-offender will be an offender and back to crime they'll go; - the system's failed because of it's obsession with targets, targets and yes more targets.
What goes wrong in cases like this (and they are ones which can be related to in casework terms) is this:-
Had our ex-offender have got the right advice, he or she would have found a suitably skilled specialist who would have argued black and blue that what their client needed most was exactly what all these target driven departments are obsessed with denying them; - the EMPLOYMENT & SUPPORT ALLOWANCE.
If Government realized the whole purpose of ESA isn't to categorise claimant's as capable or incapable of work, but to identify claimant's who have a LIMITATION and therefore need SUPPORT, they'd be on a much better road to reducing rehabilitation.
Recognition of limitation = allowance = support = more prospect of finding the right kind of employment = promoted prospect of rehabilitation; - I'm sure some oh so academic professor will agree in one of the millions of papers being pushed around Parliament as we speak.
But the Government is being short sighted and frankly can't see the wood for the trees. They omit to see how it's good value to get a hard working benefit specialist on the case and help fight the claimant's corner, not just to get them the money; it's all about getting them the SUPPORT!
But blindly following their ideology and little else, Government sends an ex-offender down completely the wrong alley, the withdrawal of legal aid will ensure these people end up either completely going off a cliff edge or alternatively drawn back into the whole sorry mess all over again. For goodness sake MOJ, see sense and realise the contribution we can make all for just £167! We're excellent value and you're staring us in the face.
We help identify those who needs support where target blinded departments completely fail to recognise what this is all about, as a consequence more money is wasted and rehabilitation becomes an unreachable goal.
Perhaps the MoJ could, just for once, put the pause button on these dangerously irresponsible reforms and see sense as to the greater part we can and want to play?
Have a read of the 'lessons learned' in the MoJ paper...
"A Social Impact Bond [SIB] is a form of PBR, potentially benefiting a range of stakeholders.
"For government a SIB aims to remove the financial risk that government pays for services that prove to be ineffective at addressing social needs and improving outcomes. Also, in a SIB it is a delivery agency or intermediary, rather than government, that commissions service providers."
So are we all convinced these new 'SIB's' are going to correctly identify and therefore 'commission' - 'effective' - service providers?
Mmmm, not if these SIB's are all too focussed on targets equalling good profits for those at the top - rather than proving they've actually delivered anything at all. Mind you reduced funding for the Police will no doubt see a mysterious 'reduction in crime'; - it'll be a stitch up rather than a lock up, that's for sure!
And as always, what's happening as an MoJ 'pilot' is interlinked between JD and some magical happening not too far from his doorstep; -JD you can't model everything on your neck of the woods you know.