|Sixth Report: The ONE Service Pilots (HC 412)
Published: 27th July 1999
|Government Reply: Sixth Special Report [Fifth Special
Report of the Social Security
Committee], Session 1998-99 (HC855)
Published: 28th October
||Further Government Action
We would recommend the government give serious thought to future delivery opportunities such as one stop shops.
We believe there are great potential benefits to both the community and the government to be obtained from such an approach.
The Government agrees with these recommendations about the potential value of more integrated service delivery. The 'Modernising Government' White Paper sets out our views on the mechanisms, including one stop shops, which we could and should use more effectively when delivering our agenda. The Government believes that, with the ONE service, we have gone some way to developing a customer-focused service which meets both our needs and those of all our clients. We are continuing to work towards delivering the ONE pilots from unified sites that give a positive impression to clients. In addition we intend to watch the progress of the pilots closely to ensure that we continue to provide a high quality service.
Close attention is being paid to the quality of service provided by the ONE pilots. The early signs are encouraging. It appears so far that clients are pleased with the ONE service and the active support that it offers, and that it is helping people to make links to the labour market who might never have previously considered work as a possibility.
While not appropriate for everybody, we recommend that Ministers should consult with organisations such as the Prince's Trust to ensure that self-employment is offered as a real option for clients under ONE.
The Government acknowledges the value of self-employment and is keen for it to be a real option for clients both within the ONE pilots and elsewhere. Last year Andrew Smith pledged that the option of self-employment should be made available for every unemployed person in the country, and these opportunities are being made available to all ONE clients. As part of our review of ONE guidance for advisers, we will be ensuring that advisers are kept aware of the need to promote self-employment as an option for clients for whom this is suitable.
We agree with the Committees on the value of consulting with organisations such as the Prince's Trust. We are already involved in partnerships with such organisations and will build this in to the ongoing dialogue and consultation to ensure that we maximise the opportunities for self-employment.
We continue to work in partnership with organisations such as the Prince's Trust to ensure that self employment is offered as a real option for clients under ONE. Advisers are aware that self employment should be promoted as an option for clients for whom this is suitable, and clients can receive self employment training through Work Based Learning for Adults.
We commend the Government on the ONE initiative, which we welcome as a big step towards a more integrated, efficient and customer-focused service
The Government welcomes the Committees' endorsement of the ONE service. We believe that the Employment Service, Benefits Agency and local authorities working in partnership will provide an excellent service. Our personal advisers should provide the right mix of labour market and benefit advice and additional support in a combination tailored to the individual.
We understand the reasons why the present pilot areas were chosen, but the Government will need to bear in mind during the evaluation the fact that the pilot areas are not fully representative of the country as a whole.
We recommend that, even at this late stage, the Government should give consideration to adding a pilot area which covers a predominantly London Area or Northern City geographical type.
The Government notes the Committees' concerns. We are confident that the pilot areas are sufficiently representative of the country as a whole for us to make sound estimates of the national impact of ONE. The selection of the pilot areas was determined primarily by the need to ensure that the pilots covered a range of labour markets and demographic characteristics, and the areas selected (such as Lea Roding and Leeds) include characteristics of concern to the Committees such as deprivation and representation of ethnic minorities.
We are confident that the pilot areas will enable us to assess the impact of ONE nationally. The evaluation is designed to assess the effectiveness of ONE at the model rather than district level. Adding another pilot area at this stage would increase substantially the cost of the pilots, and would be impractical at this stage, without significantly increasing the depth or robustness of the evaluation.
We recommend that the Government should publish its strategy for developing relationships with employers and improving the range and quality of vacancies, particularly in the context of the new client groups being targeted by ONE.
The Government agrees with the Committees' recommendation. The Employment Service has already embarked on a major programme to improve its service to employers, which is one of it's five national priorities. It has also been set out and made publicly available: the ES's Operational Plan for 1999/2000 makes clear this commitment to building more effective relationships with employers at local, regional and national levels.
The commitment of Employment Service to developing its relations with employers is reflected in two initiatives launched in September 1999: the Employer Service Commitment and the Marketing Means Business strategy.
We conclude that ONE interviews offer positive advantages to all those claiming benefits. We take the view that the requirement to attend an interview is not onerous in itself; but the element of compulsion may well be necessary to bring along those people who are demoralised, isolated, or lacking in confidence, in order to connect them to the help and encouragement which is available.
We welcome Government assurances that compulsion will not extend beyond a work-focused interview for people claiming benefits other than Jobseeker's Allowance.
We recommend that the invitation to attend a ONE interview should be positive in tone rather than threatening, and should make clear that, in the case of people claiming benefits other than Jobseeker's Allowance, the choice of whether to act on the advice and information given in the ONE interview is theirs.
We welcome the Committees' view that a requirement to participate in interviews (both at the point of claim and at trigger points throughout a claim) through the ONE service may be necessary to encourage clients to explore how they may be able to overcome their barriers to work and to help them become more in touch with the labour market. We are happy to restate that, for non-JSA clients in the ONE service, no further action is required.
We believe that clients will find the interviews beneficial and that it will not place an unreasonable burden upon them. We will continue to monitor this issue and its impact on individuals to ensure that we strike the right balance between rights and responsibilities.
In addition, we are clear that no-one should feel intimidated by the ONE interviews. It has been made clear in the guidance issued to pilot offices that the tone of verbal and written invitations to participate should be encouraging rather than threatening. All publicity materials will similarly reflect this approach. We are currently developing guidance and notifications which are to be used after the introduction of the new obligation. We will be giving interested organisations an opportunity to comment on these drafts. As the Committees recommend, these letters will be phrased positively, explain the benefits of the personal adviser service and make the rights and responsibilities of the client clear.
We are evaluating clients' views and experiences of Personal Adviser meetings, including how the work-focus was introduced during the meeting and the extent to which the discussions were tailored to their individual needs.
We worked closely with voluntary sector organisations representing a range of special client groups to make the ONE guidance and notification letters relating to the requirement to participate as positive and as clear as possible. Training for advisers continues to emphasise the principles outlined in the Select Committees' recommendation.
We recommend that, in addition to repeat invitations to attend an interview, an attempt should be made by ONE staff to establish personal contact with a person facing loss of benefit, either by telephone or a home visit, before the claim is ended or benefit is reduced.
The Government accepts the Committees' view that there is a risk that not all ONE clients, especially those in particularly vulnerable groups, may immediately understand the significance of an initial invitation to an ONE interview nor the consequences to their benefit if they fail to attend. Therefore, following the introduction of the new interview requirement from April 2000, non-JSA claimants will be given three opportunities to attend. A home visit will be considered where no personal contact has been established with the client. Considerable effort will be made to make contact by letter, telephone, or in person, before a client's benefit may be affected.
Since the requirement to participate was introduced in April 2000, non-JSA clients have been given three opportunities to attend a meeting with a personal adviser. After each missed opportunity, attempts are made to contact the client by telephone before a letter is sent. For clients whose personal adviser meeting has been deferred, a home visit is arranged after two appointments for the deferred meeting have been missed.
We recommend that during the period of the pilots there should be continuous monitoring of decisions on exemptions and deferrals both to inform on-going training of staff and to develop a model of best practice which can be used by all the pilot areas and which can form the basis for national guidelines on exemptions and deferrals in any national roll-out.
The quality of the ONE service should be judged, among other things, on the quality of the decisions taken on exemptions and deferrals, and on the follow-up action taken when a person fails to attend an interview. We recommend that research should be carried out on the quality and consistency of decisions in these areas, including an analysis of the impact of the decisions made on the clients affected.
We welcome the Committees' helpful recommendation and propose to implement it through training, and in day to day operations through local management checks.
The ONE training team will continue to keep abreast of the results obtained from monitoring the pilots and the implications of these results. This will ensure that lessons learned and good practice are reflected in appropriate training products. The ONE training team will use this to assist in the continuous development of introductory training and ongoing learning for ONE staff. In addition if, during monitoring, further learning needs are identified, action will be taken either to enhance the current product range, or to design, develop and deliver new products.
The Government intends to conduct research into the quality of decisions on exemptions and deferrals in the pilots. We are grateful to the Committees for their helpful suggestion that we include an analysis of the impact of these decisions on the clients affected. Work on this will be taken forward as part of the plan to continuously improve the ONE service.
ONE managers continue to monitor decisions on exemptions and deferrals. Indications are that the levels of deferrals are broadly as expected. To date no additional training needs have been identified.
The evaluation will explore the views of clients whose personal adviser meetings were deferred. We expect that this will enable us to make some judgement of the effect these deferrals made on the clients concerned.
In order to make the most use of the advice and information they are given, we recommend that clients should be given a written summary of the work-related and benefits advice offered during an interview.
The Government recognises the importance of providing appropriate support and advice to clients regarding benefits. One key area of advice will be the in-work benefit calculations and the adviser will give the client details of any such calculations carried out. In addition to this, the client receives a copy of the client contact report form which includes details of any leaflets and forms they were issued with.
Jobseekers will continue to make a Jobseeker's Agreement with their personal adviser, which will record their efforts to find work. For non-JSA clients, the ONE action plan will give an opportunity for the adviser and the client to record their discussion and the actions they have planned to help the client move towards independence.
Clients are provided with print-outs of in-work benefit and "better off" calculations on request. The ONE Action Plan and Jobseeker's Agreement continue to provide clients with written summaries of work-related advice.
We recommend that the Government should move as soon as possible to common terms and conditions of service for all ONE advisers. Ministers should also consider the implications of the different structure of rewards and incentives for staff in the voluntary and private sector organisations that may be engaged in the ONE Service under the second variant.
We acknowledge the Committees' concern about staff terms and conditions of service and accept the potential for difficulties to be caused because these are joint agency/ local authority pilots and there is no single employer. Staff filling posts in the ONE service will remain employees of their "home" agency or authority and retain existing terms and conditions of service, including pay.
Having said that, we are exploring ways in which these terms and conditions can be moved towards closer alignment. For example, terms have now been agreed with ES Trade Unions which result in a close match between the ES and BA pay range minima for their staff in Executive Officer grades or pay bands (this includes ONE start-up and personal advisers). The agencies will continue to take into account considerations arising from closer joint agency/authority working, as personnel and pay policies develop, across all ONE variants.
We remain aware that the absence of common terms and conditions for ONE advisers is a concern for the committees. Further work on establishing common terms and conditions is being taken forward as part of the development of the Working Age Agency.
We agree with the "generic" role being given to ONE advisers, but we draw attention to the onus this puts on the Departments and Agencies to offer in-depth training and continuing support to advisers to meet the special needs of their clients.
The 'generic' role of personal advisers is key to the ONE service. ONE personal advisers will not be expected to know everything, but to be able to identify needs and develop strong links with a network of specialists. The ONE service will enhance the role of specialists, who will be an invaluable resource for ONE advisers in addressing particular needs.
It will, of course, be vital that advisers get the training and support they need. The ONE Learning Assessment Framework (LAF) was specifically designed to deal with this requirement. The purpose of the LAF is not only to identify initial basic learning needs, but also to serve as a tool for identifying an individual's continuous development needs. ONE staff will continue to use the LAF to review their learning plans and to assess their competence development. Individuals will work closely together with their line managers throughout the lifetime of the pilots to ensure these development needs are met. All ONE staff will continue to have access to a range of training and development opportunities, which will provide them with the knowledge and skills needed to deal professionally with all ONE clients.
Specialist organisations were consulted on the skills and knowledge required for working with clients with special needs, and all ONE advisers have been trained in working sensitively with clients with special needs. Work is currently underway in developing additional special needs training.
Guidance material on external organisations is available to all personal advisers, who are also encouraged to develop links with local organisations. This enables personal advisers to make suitable referrals to specialist help, if this is felt to be appropriate by the client.
We recommend that, during the life of the pilots, special effort should be made to encourage the recruitment of personal advisers with knowledge of disabilities. All advisers should receive adequate disability awareness training. We also recommend that the Government should monitor the impact of ONE on the work of Disability Employment Advisers to ensure that an adequate number of staff is in place.
We expect ONE personal advisers to work together as teams, making the most of their individual areas of expertise. The Government welcomes the Committees' recommendation that 'special effort be made to encourage the recruitment of personal advisers with knowledge of disabilities' and this will be included in future guidance for ONE managers engaged in recruitment to ONE adviser vacancies. However, we would expect all ONE advisers to have the skills and awareness to work with clients with disabilities and refer them to specialists where necessary.
To improve general disability awareness amongst all ONE staff, the ONE training team have worked with voluntary organisations to produce an Open Learning Workbook and a two-day workshop on general disability issues. In addition if, after using the Learning Assessment Framework, ONE advisers identify a learning need around disability issues, they will continue to have access to the range of disability training products already used by the agencies which will help develop their competence in this area. ONE training will continue to monitor and develop these products to ensure they continue to meet ONE business needs. If further gaps are identified, appropriate action will be taken by the ONE training team to fill them as soon as possible, working closely where appropriate with external organisations.
The ONE pilots will indeed be monitored and evaluated to determine impact on non-ONE functions. This must include the important relationship between ONE and the DEA service, in order to ensure robust and properly resourced arrangements.
We are disappointed that organisations dependent on public funds (including local authorities) have been excluded from tendering for the private and voluntary sector pilots.
We recommend that a local authority led pilot should be introduced, where local authorities are given the opportunity to bid for the pilot being located in their area.
The Government is committed to harnessing the skills and expertise of all sectors in delivering its plans for Welfare Reform. Therefore, when seeking innovative service delivery solutions for ONE, the Government felt it important to assess what the private and voluntary sectors had to offer. We therefore decided that organisations which have been set up using public funds, or which are underwritten by the public sector would not be invited to lead the delivery of these ONE pilots.
Through the private/voluntary sector pilots we wanted to encourage proposals which involved private and/or voluntary sector organisations working in partnership with each other and public agencies in developing innovative and flexible ways of delivering ONE. This is a key area which was evaluated at strategic, advisory and delivery levels when proposals were assessed. Therefore, although private and/or voluntary sector organisations are in the lead, we expect to see public sector organisations actively involved in the local development and delivery of ONE.
The Government did not feel it would be appropriate for local authorities in the private/voluntary sector localities either to lead bids or be part of bidding consortia for the private/voluntary sector pilots. As the ONE service involves local authority functions, local authorities have been closely involved on the client side in advising on and evaluating bids, and we want to involve them in delivery whoever leads the bid. To allow these authorities to be involved on the bidding side, could create a conflict of interest and therefore jeopardise the competition process.
We consider that the full participation of local authorities in the pilots is essential for their success. The ONE pilots are a central Government initiative, designed to test out new ways of delivering Government services with a view to national implementation. The Government should therefore ensure that the core costs of local authorities involved in the ONE pilots are fully met. Full participation by local authorities in the pilots should not be constrained by a lack of adequate resources, and the extra costs should not fall on local council tax payers in the pilot areas.
We agree entirely that the involvement of local authorities is key to the success as ONE. In order to encourage this, local authorities will be resourced for their contribution to ONE on exactly the same basis as the other partners in ONE, ES and BA. This means that local authorities will get additional resources for:
· their staff who take up posts in the local implementation teams or in the project;
· premises and IT adaptations to a local authority site if it is selected to deliver ONE; and
· any local authority staff who take up any of the start-up or personal adviser roles in the ONE service.
There is also scope to increase local authority involvement as part of the continuous improvement of the pilots and within existing resources. For example, better IT links between local authorities and ONE sites, which are also being resourced centrally by the ONE project; or through closer integration of existing services into ONE sites. That is happening in some of the pilots and we want to encourage and develop this kind of involvement.
Local authorities are playing a key role in the delivery of ONE. The level of resources appropriate to ES, BA and local authorities is being reviewed periodically to ensure that the resources are distributed to partners commensurate to their roles and responsibilities.
The Government is right to move cautiously in developing new (and expensive) IT systems. Nevertheless, if ONE is to work well on a national basis, a commitment to substantial investment in IT will be needed to make the vision of a more integrated service for the public a reality. We recommend that the Government should also give attention to future methods of client access, including the potential that media such as digital television offer for interactive, electronic access to a range of Government services, including the ONE Service.
The Government recognises the importance of IT in delivering the ONE vision of a more integrated public service. We are clear that if ONE is to develop beyond its current pilot phase, then significant investment will need to be made in a number of key areas, including IT, to make an integrated, high quality and client-focused national service a reality. In such a scenario, the Government would explore the potential of the electronic media suggested by the Select Committees and more, including the Internet, to provide ways of enhancing client access to information and services. This would also take into account the opportunities offered by such media to provide the breadth of access to wider range of national and local government as envisaged in the 'Modernising Government' White Paper.
The development of new IT in support of integrated service delivery remains central to the Modernising Government agenda, as well as to the future success of the Working Age Agency. Any decision to extend a ONE-style service will involve an explanation of how the new IT could be used to enhance the ONE service.
If the start-up meeting is to be seen as anything more than a reception service, we are concerned that insufficient time may have been allocated for the interviews and that problems with daily scheduling may occur.
The Government welcomes the Committees' recognition of the importance of the start-up meeting for ONE clients. It will be vital to set the correct atmosphere and tone for the way in which the client experiences the ONE service. In broad terms we would expect the start-up adviser to have sufficient time to establish the client's basic needs and, where appropriate, submit them to suitable jobs; allocate a personal adviser and issue appropriate forms. As it stands we believe that this is achievable within the resource allocated to the pilot areas. We do, however, recognise that this new way of working will put particular demands on local pilots to manage, particularly in dealing with fluctuations in demand. The pilots are testing the ONE model and interview content and time will be one of the many areas we will be closely monitoring to ensure we have struck the right balance.
We are continuing to monitor the activities undertaken within the ONE model. The content and length of start-up meetings will be reviewed shortly and we will pay close attention to the findings of that review.
We would welcome a wide remit for ONE personal advisersthe extent to which they are able to assess their clients' needs and offer a wide range of advice and support to help clients meet those needs will be central to the success of ONE. In our view, they will only be able to do so if their caseloads are not overloaded.
The Government is as concerned as the Committees to ensure that ONE personal advisers are not overextended as this is productive neither for the client nor for the ONE service as a whole. We believe one of the key advantages of ONE is that advisers can tailor the timing and frequency of their meetings with clients to match their individual needs. We have already learned much from the New Deal about how personal advisers can best work with their clients. The ONE pilots will provide us, and the advisers themselves, with valuable knowledge of what is required when dealing with a range of different client needs. Advisers will be able to use their discretion to control the size of their caseloads and use their time effectively. This will be closely monitored. We estimate accurate figures on the sizes and composition of caseloads and the frequency of meetings with clients to be available once the pilots have been running for 6-9 months.
Personal advisers exercise discretion as to which clients should receive additional help through additional contact. Frequency and length of further meetings are flexible, enabling personal advisers to balance the needs of all their clients. Management information regarding caseloading is monitored regularly. Given the relatively short length of time since the requirement for non-JSA clients to participate in the ONE service was introduced, we do not yet have a full picture of caseloading activity.
It will be important to ensure that the teams are composed in such a way that the full range of relevant expert knowledge, whether benefit or labour market related, is displayed.
The Government is clear that all ONE advisers must receive any necessary training to bring them up to a recognised standard in all relevant ONE specialisms Having said that, we also agree with the Committees' view that ONE sites should consist of cross agency teams. All local managers are instructed to ensure that all teams should contain the relevant mix of expertise so that appropriate 'in-team' support can be given.
ONE advisers have been recruited across all partner organisations, ensuring a range of expertise. Individual training needs continue to be met through the Learning Assessment Framework.
We recommend that the Government should ensure that local user groups are actively involved in developing specialised training for personal advisers and, where appropriate, delivering that training.
The Government is committed to drawing on the specialist knowledge of all groups connected with the ONE service. To this end, both the ONE Training Team and Agency mainstream training organisations are continuing to work closely with external organisations, to ensure that their input and support is secured for the training effort. Agencies already use the support of some of the leading Disability organisations to support training (such as RNIB, RNID & others from mental health & learning disability organisations), but they are currently developing further links with MIND, SCOPE, RADAR and NSF, to enhance their current partnership links. Where appropriate, external organisations will continue to be engaged to support the design, development and delivery of training. More importantly, pilot staff will be encouraged to develop more local contacts and partnerships, with a view to using these to develop advisers' knowledge and skills.
Regular meetings are held between stakeholders and officials in each of the pilot areas. National organisations continue to be closely involved in the development of ONE training material.
We recommend that, in the light of these concerns, personal advisers from each team should receive specialist training on how to provide a sensitive and effective service for clients with mental health problems.
The Government believes that ONE personal advisers should provide a high level of service for every client. That is why the interview training which personal advisers will receive is designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills required for dealing sensitively and professionally with all clients. Having said that we recognise the Committees' concerns that those clients with mental health problems may have additional needs not comprehensively dealt with through this training. The ONE training team are currently assessing the range of products available (which include a specific one day workshop on people with mental health problems and/or learning difficulties), with a view to ensuring that they contain the level and depth required for ONE business needs. If it is found that there are deficiencies in the current product range, proposals will be made for addressing these as soon as possible. This process will include consultation and involvement of external organisations who have experience in this area and who are willing to assist in developing and enhancing training products.
Organisations representing clients with mental health problems were represented at the Special Client Group conference in June 1999. A number of these groups contributed to the Guide to Information for Clients with Special Needs, which is available to all advisers.
We welcome the development of a diagnostic tool for use in the New Deal Gateway and recommend that, once established, it should be made available for use by ONE advisers.
We are currently working on the introduction of a diagnostic tool for use in ONE. This will be based around the New Deal prototype and will aim to help advisers to focus on identifying a client's main barriers to employment. Using this, advisers should be better equipped to focus their support effectively on any highlighted barriers.
We welcome the fact that personal advisers will be able to provide ongoing support for clients moving into work, and we recommend that eventually this should go beyond the initial stages of settling into a job and focus on improving the job retention and job progression of clients who remain on in-work benefits.
The Government is committed to sustainable employment opportunities for all, and as part of many of our Welfare Reform Programmes, including New Deal for Young People, we are looking closely at how best to take this forward. Training is currently available to ONE personal advisers to help them to assist people once they enter employment. Advisers are also able to provide in-work benefit calculations to demonstrate the advantages of employment. We will consider further what additional help and support we could give ONE clients in work as part of our plan to improve the pilots over time.
The offer of ongoing support for clients starting work is given where it is felt to be appropriate.
It will be important to ensure that, while ONE remains a client-focused service, it does not become too client-led. We welcome the fact that clients will be able to ask for additional meetings with their personal advisers, but advisers must have the autonomy to balance the demands placed on their time and resources by all their clients.
ONE personal advisers will have the autonomy to balance the demands made on their time. They should and will have the right to balance the needs and demands of the client against their time and resource allocation. Again, we will be monitoring how that autonomy is used.
ONE managers continue to review the use made of personal advisers' time, to ensure the most effective balance of activity.
We recommend that the pilots should be used to consider the possibility of developing a suite of Gateway-style options for non-JSA clients, based on the needs identified through the adviser meetings, for use in any national roll-out.
At a minimum the Government is committed to ensuring that ONE clients in the pilot areas will have access to any of the provision which would have been available to them outside the ONE service. In addition we are working closely with local organisations and specialist groups to consider what further provision may be needed. Any future development of the ONE service should take on board the lessons from all of the extensive evaluations of our Welfare to Work programmes in order to focus on providing the best possible service for all ONE clients.
The Government has told us that a residual start-up service will be offered face-to-face for those clients who cannot or will not use the telephone, and we believe that it is important that this service be maintained. Clients who would benefit from a face-to-face start-up meeting must not be coerced or cajoled into using the telephone in the call centre pilots when, for whatever reason, they would prefer not to.
The Government is committed to testing the effectiveness of technology in delivering the ONE service. However, we are also aware that this may not always be the best method of delivery for some of our clients. Therefore, a face to face start-up service will be retained in the call centre variant pilots. Clients will be encouraged to use the call centre and the benefits of using this service will be pointed out, but no one will be coerced into using the telephone when they would prefer not to. Guidance will be produced for staff to identify particular sensitivities of clients who are unable to conduct their business by telephone for whatever reason. We would, however, expect most clients who were able to do so to make use of the telephone.
The majority of clients have been happy to use the call centre. We continue to provide face to face start-up meetings for those clients who are unwilling or unable to use the call centre service.
We welcome the intention to recruit start-up advisers who are fluent in languages other than English and we believe that these staff should be properly rewarded for this work and receive appropriate training on how to operate as intermediaries, if they are to work as interpreters as well as advisers.
We recommend that ONE should follow Benefits Agency best practice guidance in the use of interpreters.
It will be important for ONE staff to reflect the ethnic makeup of the communities with which they are working, and also that all staff should receive training to reflect the language and cultural needs of an ethnically diverse community.
The Government is clear that the ONE service should have the capacity to cater to the needs of all our clients including those with language barriers. Therefore, all ONE advisers will receive training to reflect the language and cultural needs of the communities in which they work, and this is included both in induction training and in specific training for start-up and personal advisers.
Best practice within ES and BA is for staff who are able to speak languages other than English to be used to speak to clients with particular language needs. This allows the client to conduct their business in their own language. We would like to make clear that these staff do not act as translators but as advisers. Additional training is available to staff to support them in managing special client needs. However, where clients need a translation service, this is not provided in-house but is available through third parties (either from the client or the ES/BA).
We are also clear that our recruitment policy should comply with our commitment to equal opportunities. The joint post-filling guidance (for the call centre variant and the basic model pilots) specifies that the joint sifting and selection process must be operated in line with the core partners' Equal Opportunities policies, and by managers who have received the requisite training. The ethnic balance of ONE teams will be included in the core partners' monitoring of the effectiveness of their Equal Opportunities policies.
The importance of sensitivity to issues of cultural diversity and communication continues to be emphasised in the ONE training.
A number of ONE advisers are able to offer languages other than English, and the Language Line telephone translation service is available in all ONE centres.
We believe that the need for start-up interviews to be conducted by advisers from outside the client's area should be avoided wherever possible.
The call centre Variant is specifically designed to ensure that as far as possible clients have their start-up interview with advisers from their own area. In the call centre variant pilots, the technology will recognise the incoming number of clients telephoning in and direct their call to the nearest call centre (e.g. a call from Frome will be directed to the Somerset call centre). Where there is insufficient capacity to answer an incoming call in reasonable time, the calls will overflow within the virtual call centre network. This may result in some of the short incoming calls being handled by a remote call centre in another part of the country. However, the advisers answering these calls will normally book the scheduled call-backs (which form the bulk of the start-up meeting with advisers) to come from the client's own call centre pilot. Conducting start up interviews from call centres other than that nearest to the client will only occur as a contingency for extreme circumstances (e.g. the loss of one call centre).
We would also expect similar principles to apply to the private/voluntary sector model pilots if call centre technology were used as an enhancement to support delivery of the service. However, if this were not possible, we would wish to ensure that robust mechanisms were in place to ensure that advisers have and maintain updated local information relevant to the ONE service to meet clients' needs.
To date, the contingency arrangements for extreme circumstances have not been invoked. All start-up call-backs have been made from the call centre nearest to the client.
We are concerned that the number of bidders invited to submit bids in the pilot areas has diminished and that the choice of bids may therefore become limited. We do not believe that contracts should be awarded unless bidders can satisfactorily demonstrate that they can add value to the basic ONE model.
Ministers want to test different approaches to making ONE work and therefore asked the private/voluntary sector bidders to develop innovative service delivery solutions. Selection of successful bids was based on those proposals which demonstrated the optimum combination of quality, cost and risk. We were clear that if we did not receive satisfactory bids in one or more of the pilot areas, we would not proceed. This situation did not however arise.
We welcome the opportunity to evaluate the contribution that the private and voluntary sector could make to ONE, but we believe that, in the absence of any initial expectations about the level of service they will be able to provide, or indeed the nature of that service, proper evaluation of the private and voluntary sector will be all the more important.
We believe that a proper evaluation of private and voluntary sector involvement in ONE should take into account the level of public sector resources invested in bringing the private sector up to speed on the delivery of services in which it has hitherto had only limited involvement.
The evaluation will employ common methods across all ONE models, including the private and voluntary sector (PVS) variant, so that fair comparisons can be made between these models. However, in order fully to understand the impact of the PVS variant, it will be necessary to make a careful study of the arrangements for delivering the service in these pilot areas. This will be done during the period leading up to the start of the pilots in November.
The cost-benefit analysis will be able to take into account any input by the public sector into the private/voluntary sector variant. The costs of Employment Service, Benefits Agency and Local Authority resources used to support implementation and delivery of the private and voluntary sector pilots will be recorded and monitored.
Arrangements for the delivery of the service by contractors were examined prior to the launch of the PVS pilots in November 1999.
The evaluation will compare the PVS variant with the basic and call centre variants, as well as with the control areas.
The evaluation will take account of public sector resources used in the PVS variant. This will include resources used to support the implementation and the on-going delivery of the service.
We recommend that decisions on bids by private and voluntary sector organisations should be taken as close to the local level as is practical and consistent with financial accountability.
Local representatives were fully involved in the evaluation of bidders' proposals and the detailed discussions in this area, in full recognition that key delivery and financial accountabilities will rest at local level.
We recommend that, once the private and voluntary sector contracts have been awarded, the Government should publish full details of all the bids that were shortlisted.
The intellectual property rights to the bidders' ONE delivery proposals do not belong to the Government, but remain with the bidder. Therefore the Government has no legal right to publish the details of shortlisted bidders' proposals. We will discuss with successful bidders arrangements to make public the details of ONE delivery, once they are finalised.
Details of innovations currently being delivered by the PVS partners have already been communicated to a wide audience.
Given the level of concern that has been expressed, we would urge the Government to proceed with caution on the issue of output-related funding. Any incentive scheme for private and voluntary sector providers must take into account the full range of clients and the full range of useful outcomes. We also recommend that the Government should evaluate the impact of output-related funding on the experiences of all sub-sectors of the client group.
The Government is committed to the principles of output-related funding as a valid means of testing and rewarding creative or innovative schemes operated by the private and voluntary sectors. We have already agreed the basic principles of the funding mechanism for the ONE private/voluntary sector pilots and the areas where we would look to apply output related/incentivised funding. We would like to reassure the Committees that we will ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage bidders to give effective help to all client groups including the hardest to help, not just those who are felt to be the most job-ready.
The details of the payment methodology will be finalised and agreed with each successful bidder shortly. Once agreed, targets will be re-negotiated every year in order to ensure that the pilots are meeting the needs of the whole client group.
Work is underway to finalise the output related funding regime. Interim arrangements are currently in place to ensure that the ONE policy intent is fully met, and that the right incentives are in place to encourage PVS partners to give effective help to all client groups. The effects of output-related funding will be considered as part of the overall evaluation strategy.
We recommend that the evaluation process should make every effort to assess the impact of ONE on the most deprived areas within the pilots.
In line with the objectives of the pilots, the evaluation is designed to assess the impact of each of the ONE models. The primary unit of analysis for the evaluation is, therefore, the modelthat is four pilot areas not below this level.
Within the current strategy for the evaluation, every effort will be made to assess the effect of ONE on the most deprived areas within the pilots. The evaluation will be able to determine the numbers going through ONE at the local level but it will not be able to assess the labour market effect of ONE on small geographical areas.
If ONE is to be a valuable initiative for all of the targeted client groups, it will be important to develop criteria for measuring the progress an individual makes in getting in touch with the labour market which are more relevant than simple job placements.
The evaluation will measure the performance of ONE against its objectives. These objectives include helping more people into work, and putting more benefit recipients in touch with the labour market. Clients can move closer to the labour market by taking up part-time work or voluntary work, or a course of study or training. Getting in touch with the labour market can include taking more active steps to seek work, or being willing to consider a wider range of jobs. Many clients, especially disabled people and those with a long-standing illness, may initially believe that they will never work again, and for these clients a change in attitude to one that sees work as being part of their future, will be a significant step towards labour market participation. Social research with clients and staff, undertaken as part of the ONE evaluation, will cover all these issues and will assess the extent to which ONE has succeeded in moving clients closer to the labour market.
Results from the first wave of the Client Survey and the first stage of qualitative interviews with clients are due to be published in December 2000. The reports are based on research conducted whilst participation in ONE was voluntary. They include findings about the early impact of the ONE service in changing attitudes towards work and levels of jobsearch, participation in education, training and voluntary work, as well as movements into part-time and full-time work. Later stages of the research will provide similar findings for clients who joined ONE after April 2000, when interviews became compulsory.
We recommend that as part of the evaluation process independent benefit checks should be carried out on a selection of ONE participants to identify the quality of the benefits information and advice which they have been given and to identify the effect of ONE on the take-up of benefits.
The Government understands the importance of a full evaluation of the ONE pilots and monitoring the quality of the service received by clients. As part of this process there will be research assessing the experience and views of both clients and staff through in-depth interviews. Although this cannot prove a causal link between quality of information and take-up, it will give an indication of whether clients perceive they are receiving good advice and information on benefits.
We continue to develop and improve the information technology that supports the ONE service, this includes looking at ways in which we can assess the impact of ONE on the take-up of benefits.
We recommend that the government should publish the clear measures which it intends to use in assessing the reduction in people's detachment from the labour market.
We recommend that the government publish the measures by which it intends to evaluate the success of ONE advisers in assisting people who are not able to work towards greater independence.
In order to assess the extent to which ONE has affected clients' attachment to the labour market our research will be looking at measures including participation in part-time work, voluntary work, education and training,; changes in jobsearch behaviour; attitudes towards work: and movements off benefits into work. In order to assess the extent to which personal advisers succeed in assisting people who are not able to work we will be asking clients whether the service was tailored to their individual needs and whether it was helpful in moving them towards greater independence. It should also be possible to track the volume of clients by the type of intervention they receive, and whether they were referred to specialist services. All research commissioned as part of the evaluation of ONE will be published as soon as the reports are ready.
The evaluation reports to be published in December 2000 will include findings on the quality of information and advice regarding the labour market received by clients and general awareness of passported and in-work benefits.