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Good Workplace Relationships Have Largest Impact on Job Satisfaction
February 4, 2020
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Good relationships with colleagues are essential to job satisfaction, according to 77% of workers.

Out of the 2,141 people surveyed, 1,537 said they were satisfied in their current role, 500 said they were dissatisfied, and those remaining responded ‘not applicable’.

Satisfied workers generally considered payment less important than feeling connected to the purpose of the organisation and having a challenging role too.

The Institute of Leadership & Management’s study, New Decade, New Direction, found other important factors for job satisfaction including access to training and development (68%), being trusted to take on more responsibility (66%) and a good work/life balance (32%).

Of dissatisfied employees in the survey, 47% said that they feel undervalued by their managers. Other factors found to be linked to dissatisfaction include having a lack of growth and development opportunities (45%), low salary (34%) and negative company culture (33%).

To ensure a positive working environment and therefore drive retention the report advised employers to not assume how people derive satisfaction from their work and pay attention to non-financial aspects of a job.

Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management, told HR magazine:

“It’s often put down to luck when we work with a great group of people, but it’s also a result of a company culture that recognises the social aspects of work and builds in the essential time for people to get to know each other.”

Cooper suggested that if employers create a social and friendly workplace culture colleagues have time to form relationships and bond. However, she warned there can be pitfalls for HR.

“Once the foundations for good relationships have been laid they’re very difficult to undo. But if you get it wrong it takes a long time to fix. So get the social aspects of work right from the beginning: it is such an important investment because what we’re essentially investing in is retaining our talent,” she said.

The research was carried out in partnership with career development consultancy Amazing If and the Triangirls tech community.

Government to Consult on Subcontracting Limits

The government is set to launch its consultation on a radical overhaul of subcontracting rules this week – and is expected to include a proposal to limit out-of-area deals.

Government to consult on subcontracting limits
Eileen Milner

Eileen Milner, the chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, sent a sector-wide letter in October warning of rule changes and that she will take strong action against any provider that abuses the system.

She said there were 11 live investigations into subcontracting at the time, with issues underpinning them ranging in seriousness from “complacency and mismanagement”, through to matters of “deliberate and systematic fraud”.

As per Milner’s letter, areas expected to be under consideration in the consultation include “placing limits on the permitted geographical distance between a directly funded institution and the location where subcontracted provision is delivered”.

It comes just months after the Greater London Authority announced plans to end out-of-area providers subcontracting in London.

This year, the GLA provides around £14 million of AEB grant funding to providers located further than what is considered to be a “reasonable travel-to-learn distances for London learners”.

Officials say the majority of this funding is subcontracted to training providers based in London who are then charged a “substantial” management fee.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has now announced plans to stop funding for providers based outside the capital’s fringe – typically more than 30 miles away from central London.

Aside from out-of-area subcontracting, the ESFA’s consultation is expected to cover how much funding can be subcontracted by a single provider, actions to prevent non-compliance, failure and fraud, and potentially precluding the use of some subcontractors.

It is not expected that the ESFA will suggest imposing a cap on management fees under subcontracting arrangements, as called for by sector bodies such as the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.

Milner said at the time of the October letter that where “poor subcontracting practice is evident to us we will act decisively”.

The review will be concluded this academic year and the ESFA plans to start implementing the changes at the start of 2020-21.

There have been a number of high-profile subcontracting scandals in recent years, including the Luis Michael Training case where its owners, which included two former professional footballers, created “ghost learners” and were jailed for over 25 years combined.

The most recent subcontracting scandal, exposed by FE Week, involved Brooklands College and resulted in the ESFA demanding a £20 million clawback.

Milner has said the ESFA will, in future, be “more forensic in our examination of the data and information available to us to hold individuals and organisations to account”.

“We will recover public money where appropriate,” she added in her letter from October.

The ESFA isn’t the only body taking a closer look at subcontracting: Ofsted announced in November that it was launching research into the practice.

Universal Credit Rollout Delayed Again – to 2024
February 4, 2020
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Full rollout of universal credit, the government’s flagship welfare reform, is being delayed again, adding £500m to its overall cost, the BBC has learned.

Officials say not enough people are moving to the benefit as they are “scared” to move to universal credit. 

The system was meant to be fully live by April 2017, but the new delay will push it back to September 2024.

People queue at job centre

The welfare delivery minister, Will Quince, said claimants would not lose money as a result of the change. 

The backroom discussions leading to the latest delay were recorded by a BBC team whose series, Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State, starts on Tuesday. 

The new benefit, which replaces six existing payments, has been beset by problems, with claimants having to wait at least five weeks for the payments to start and many reports of people falling into debt, and having to resort to food banks as a consequence.

On top of that, advance payments of the benefit, introduced to help people through the five weeks with no money coming in, have been blamed for putting claimants into debt. That’s because once the benefit finally comes through, payments are reduced to pay off the advance. 

Changing circumstances

Claimants are meant to transfer onto universal credit when they have a change of circumstances, such as moving in with a new partner.

The film-makers were allowed access to meetings inside the Department of Work and Pensions, and officials are seen pondering what to do when they realise fewer people are reporting changes of circumstances and therefore being transferred to the new benefit, than expected. 

One programme shows Bolton mum Paula struggling to feed her family when her first universal credit payment comes in at just over £500 for a month, because of deductions to pay off the advance she took during the five-week wait.

She ends up resorting to a food bank. “I have just got myself into one big mess and I have lost control over everything,” Paula tells a debt counsellor.

“I am in debt up to my eyeballs and it’s not going to go away.”

The counsellor tells her: “Any customer on universal credit, we already know that you’re standing on the back foot. 

“If you don’t have money saved up already or you don’t have backup of family who can support you, you will fall into taking an advance payment.” 

She added that benefit deductions to pay off the advance, leave people “constantly trying to catch up”. 

‘Scared’

Neil Couling, the senior civil servant in charge of the rollout for the past five years, is filmed telling a Whitehall meeting: “We’ve got a lot of anecdotal evidence of people being scared to come to universal credit. 

“It’s a potentially serious issue for us, in terms of completing the project by December 2023, but I’m urging people not to panic.”

But a few weeks later, in September 2019, he decides to delay full rollout to September 2024, putting £500m on the bill. 

“Three, six or nine months, it doesn’t matter – the headline will be: ‘Delay, disaster’,” he says

“I would say, ‘Go safe, put the claimants first, and I’ll take the beating.'” 

‘Hugely embarrassing’

Despite the problems, Mr Couling says he believes that once universal credit is fully implemented, it will be successful and regarded as “the right thing to do”. 

“This is the system that will form the bedrock of social security for the next 30 years.”

He expects universal credit to continue to grow, with 2.6m people already on it by September last year: “Right now there’s no way I can put the brakes on and stop.

“I have to keep going to the destination or you have to set me a different destination, because there’s 2.6m people, and if we get something wrong we could disrupt their lives and they’ve got no alternative. There’s no alternative bank they can go to get help. We are the payer of last resort.”

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood, called the news “hugely embarrassing” for the government and called for universal credit to be scrapped. 

“Universal credit was supposed to be its flagship social security programme. 

“Instead we now find that it is being forced to delay the full rollout because the public have so very little faith in it and many are actually afraid of it,” said Ms Greenwood. 

The government says universal credit was always intended to be introduced slowly. 

It is “the biggest change to the welfare system in a generation, bringing together six overlapping benefits into one monthly payment and offering support to some of the most vulnerable people in society”, said Mr Quince. 

“It is right that we revisit our forecasts and plan, and re-plan accordingly, ensuring that the process is working well for people on benefits.”