Select Committee on Education and Employment Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 150 - 159)




  150. Paul, Victor and Sajid, you are very welcome. Thank you very much indeed. You have all made a very major contribution, if I may say so, to the New Deal and its development so far. You know that we are embarked on this rather brisk look at the evaluations of the New Deal; and there have been many. One of its qualities as a programme is the extent to which it is being evaluated. How much do you think the apparent decline in youth unemployment since the introduction of the New Deal is as a result of the effects of the New Deal for Young People and how much as a result of other factors, for example the general improvement in economic performance in the early 1990s?
  (Mr Adebowale) Obviously the economic improvement must have an effect. Centrepoint's position has always been that the issue of New Deal is whether it had an impact on those young people who did not have the skills or attitudes or aptitudes or indeed were discriminated against within the employment market, particularly young homeless people. The New Deal Task Force commissioned some research—I cannot remember but I think it might have been by KPMG—but a lot of work done to show that in fact the successes in New Deal would have happened regardless of the improvements in the economy. Centrepoint's position is that the success of New Deal in getting young people, who have some skills but maybe lack motivation or clear routes into employment, into employment is clearly there. The 250,000 are there. However, as New Deal is successful with that client group, that group of young people, we are now hitting that group of young people who have particular problems and the longer New Deal goes on, the more we are in effect—not the right term—scraping the barrel and finding people with housing problems, mental health problems, drug problems, who are having real difficulty accessing the programme.
  (Mr Convery) The reduction in youth unemployment, certainly in the last three and a half years, has been very dramatic. It is down by some 70 per cent; the Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) count. I do not think it is true to say you can either have economic growth producing jobs or a programme like New Deal producing jobs. Ideally you have the two together. You have taken evidence from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), but their evidence suggests that only a small number of net additional jobs has been created in the economy. However, it was never the intention of New Deal to stimulate new jobs. The fact that according to NIESR there are something in the order of 15,000 extra jobs filled by young people is an additional benefit. It was not the design of New Deal to create 250,000 jobs. There is, however, it is fair to say, a register effect from New Deal itself. If one were to take a snapshot of the current JSA count, you could say that some 28,300 young people who are presently on New Deal would otherwise be on the JSA count itself. That at present is the full extent of its register impact. The great advantages both to the economy and to the individuals is that even those young people who have jobs they may well have got into anyway, have got into jobs where the match has been much more effective, where what the employer requires and what the young person can offer are better matched and where the likelihood is that they have stuck out at those jobs, they have sustained those jobs for substantially longer than if New Deal had not been there applying this improvement to their employability and making the match into work more effective.
  (Mr Butt) I agree with much of what Mr Adebowale and Mr Convery have already said except for the fact that prior to New Deal there had been a legacy of mistrust between black and ethnic minority communities and the nature of labour market programmes in place at the time. New Deal, with its ethos in terms of tapping the long-term unemployment skills deficit and actually having a one-to-one approach is something which did raise aspirations. For that reason, it has had more success than it would otherwise.

  151. Do you think that the socially excluded groups such as the homeless and those from ethnic minorities have experienced the same overall decline in youth unemployment as nationally and generally?
  (Mr Adebowale) There is evidence to suggest that New Deal has not quite reached the client group you refer to. There have been two pieces of work on this. The first is the disadvantaged young people's report which was commissioned by the New Deal Task Force into the effects of New Deal on young people who were homeless. There is clear evidence that homeless young people were not accessing New Deal. Centrepoint has done its own research which was published in the report called New Deal: Big Deal. This also showed that homeless young people were not accessing the New Deal programme. We do have recent evidence from our own research in our projects which shows that a large percentage, over 60 per cent of young people on JSA, who should be on New Deal are in fact not on New Deal. The reasons for that need further enquiry but it is worrying.

  152. Could you just repeat that, it sounds very important?
  (Mr Adebowale) Twenty-five per cent of those on JSA were on New Deal, but of those on JSA for six months or more only 33 per cent were recorded as taking part in New Deal programmes. There are reasons for that; there could have been breaks in claim for instance which can mean that young people are not on New Deal when they should be or that young people are not being identified by the Employment Service appropriately. We do know that there is a group of young people who fall through the net and who are generally homeless, they left school without qualifications and have other problems, who should be on New Deal, are eligible to be on New Deal but in fact are not on New Deal.

  153. It strikes me that the group you describe have always fallen through the net for about the last 30 years or more that I can remember. Is there anything different about our present experience? Are fewer of them falling through the net than traditionally or have we not made very much progress in learning how to deal with this prime group?
  (Mr Adebowale) It is hard to make historical comparisons but at Centrepoint we have summed it up by saying the New Deal may have met its target but is in danger of missing the point in that the most disadvantaged young people still remain disadvantaged and we do not actually have a mechanism for getting them into New Deal. There is a limit to what New Deal can provide. Young people lead very chaotic lifestyles. However, there are programmes which Centrepoint has been working on with other organisations which actually have had quite a strong effect on getting disadvantaged young people onto New Deal or at least closer to it. The fact is that the New Deal regime is quite rigid in terms of the Gateway, how long young people actually get access to New Deal. We have argued for a pre-New Deal programme specifically designed for homeless young people and those who have other chaotic lifestyles.
  (Mr Convery) The reason that we are more concerned about it today is not that the problem has got worse or has got less, it is just that when New Deal was launched we raised some expectations about its ability to do more than the programme design is capable of doing. The fundamental point about New Deal is that essentially it is triggered by a benefit claim. If a young person does not have a relationship with the Employment Service, and making a claim for JSA is the fundamental relationship they have, if the Employment Service is not in contact with these young people, there is nothing you can do within the framework of New Deal to get New Deal to incorporate those young people. We are not significantly better aware of how New Deal is helping these young people, because it is one of the areas of the very, very comprehensive evaluation programme which is not really enquiring into these young people. It has to be said that there has been a reliance on the work of non-governmental organisations to provide this kind of intelligence, either in a quantifiable kind of way, or through a very large accumulation of hearsay evidence and the experience of front level workers. I would certainly welcome in the next Parliament, if there is a New Deal Mark II, that the evaluation of that programme concentrates much more on these less tangible and harder to measure aspects of New Deal and floods people less with vast amounts of administratively generated performance information. It is deep in the weave of the programme that we have to identify how we can pick up highly disadvantaged young people.
  (Mr Adebowale) The emphasis on job outcomes is a problem when you are talking about young people who are homeless, may have mental health, drug, alcohol or literacy/numeracy skills issues. What we need to be developing are measures of progression towards job readiness, which do not appear to be recognised within the New Deal programme or in the thinking around New Deal. That is a problem, because it does leave a large number of young people behind. In fact, when we did the work on disadvantaged young people, we did discover that there was something like 160,000 young people. This is something the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) have looked into. They left school without education qualifications and then disappeared; literally did not appear again. That is a very worrying sign.
  (Mr Butt) Prior to New Deal we already knew that unemployment rates for black and minority groups were two to three times the average and it is still the case now in the New Deal programme that there is still a large number of people slipping through the net as well. We need to have some sound analysis as to why this continues to happen. Sometimes when we have been talking to New Deal personal advisers and New Deal partnerships, they tend to put the onus back on the young person, either saying they are not job ready or they do not really want to work and they often cite young Muslim women as an example. That may be the case in some instances but at the end of the day, black and ethnic minority young people are already well qualified as it is. So why are they not being put forward to jobs and is there something going wrong? You could possibly look at employer discrimination, but also you could look at the fact that some New Deal personal advisers keep referring these clients on to the further education option as well. Sometimes the advice is wrong. If they do not think a young person is actually job ready, they tend to refer them on to the further education option which, as you probably know, black young people are more over-represented in. This option is also producing far fewer job outcomes, particularly for that client group. At the end of the day, I just do not think the New Deal partnerships or the advisers are actually aware of the scale of the problem and how to go about it. At the end of the day some partnerships do perform better than others. We need to find out why, for example Tower Hamlets, is doing very well. Is it because they have a very well established Bangladeshi community? Other places where there is a high black and ethnic minority population, for example Birmingham, are not doing so well in that they have diverse provision. What is actually going wrong? The second thing in relation to that on which I touched before is employer discrimination. New Deal personal advisers do identify this as a huge problem but quite what they do about it when they do not have the necessary tools or the expertise to deal with this situation . . . Training packs which are already in existence from the CRE or other legislative bodies are not really dealing with this in a practical way. We are working with the Employment Service in developing some sort of training pack which might assist in this process and are piloting it in Bristol at the moment. Hopefully we shall get some qualitative results from that, but we have noticed that black New Deal personal advisers are more willing to tackle issues around employer discrimination than white New Deal personal advisers. Maybe we could do something around developing a pool of expertise with those advisers from different client groups. It is another issue but that really does need to be taken forward.

Mr Allan

  154. Continuing the point about this large number of people who should be on New Deal but are not on New Deal, the Government rhetoric when they brought in the New Deal on the benefit sanctions aspects of it was that that was designed to make sure that everybody went on the New Deal. It is not something I am personally particularly happy with but that was the logic. I just want to explore that. Could you indicate whether this large number of people who should be on it but are not on it are being sanctioned, whether sanctions are having any positive or negative effect and in particular the other side of the sanctions coin is the fear that New Deal and sanctions might drive some people further underground and completely add to the JSA side. I wonder whether from the Centrepoint experience you picked up on that at all.
  (Mr Adebowale) It is very difficult. It is very difficult to get accurate figures on number of sanctions and their effects but my sense is that there have actually been very few. Centrepoint's position has always been that if you threaten sanctions you actually take away the very attractive proposition that New Deal is. Young people have had a number of programmes, number of interventions, none of which have worked and their experience of the sanction is to avoid getting involved in the programme altogether for fear of being sanctioned. It is almost a negative proposal in the first place. The evidence we have does not indicate that having sanctions makes any difference at all to the accessibility of New Deal by the most disadvantaged. In fact one of the problems which surround New Deal and disadvantaged and homeless young people is its connection with a very complex benefit system. We have argued long and hard and have some evidence to back this up, that young people who are on housing benefit, living in social housing and have other issues often find that if they get work as a result of any programme, the amount of available free income they have is less than it would have been if they were on benefits. This is about disposable income. This is a real disincentive. If you add to that the problems associated with single room reference rents, which is the cutting of benefits to allow young people under the age of 25 only to share a room, then you have real problems. What Centrepoint does know is that if you do not have an address it is very difficult to get a job and if you do not have a job it is very difficult to get an address. The two systems work against each other, particularly if you are disadvantaged.
  (Mr Convery) I take the view that the sanctions regime has no impact at all on young people who are completely outside the benefit system because logically there is nothing to leverage the young person into a particular choice. For those who are already highly excluded, it is an irrelevance. It is not a tool which can help bring them into the programme. As to those young people who express a degree of reluctance or a lack of clarity about what they want to do, sanctions have not had a particularly significant part to play here. The latest data shows us that typically over a quarterly period, between 4,500 and 5,000 people are sanctioned; about 1,500 a month. When you look at it in the totality of the inflow, that is relatively small. The most significant thing is that there is a sense that there is a degree of mandatory participation and that perhaps diminishes the sense of choice. Particularly as the young person gets three months or four months into the gateway there is less choice than they might like and sometimes Employment Service officials do find themselves a little bit under pressure to get a result. That can lead to cutting corners perhaps or offering a choice which is not really a huge choice. What is very significant is that with some of the options on New Deal, and bear in mind that the New Deal options themselves are in some ways the smaller part of the programme, we can see that there is a stratification of popularity when you look at numbers of people who are sanctioned for declining to take out an environment task force option. It is almost one quarter of all the people on that option at that time expressing a flow as a proportion of a stock for comparison purposes, whereas with the employer option it is only about six per cent. You can see that sanctions tend to be applied more for those options which do not offer a wage, do not offer regular work and the clear prospect of progression. Nonetheless the overall numbers themselves are relatively low.
  (Mr Adebowale) One of the worrying things about New Deal is that as we succeed with those which are most likely to get work and hit the figures and reach and have to do more work with those with greater difficulties, there will be an increase in sanctions. They tend to go into the less attractive options. One of the worrying aspects of that is the link between the income support sanction and the housing benefit. If you are sanctioned you are not supposed to lose housing benefit. However, there have been cases, and this has led to further guidance being put out by ES and DSS. I am still concerned though that there will be cases and I should be worried if there were one case in fact, of a young person who has been sanctioned on income support and then had their housing benefit affected because you are effectively making them homeless and the link between the two does worry me and the lack of clarity between the two types of benefit is a real risk for too many young people.


  155. Thank you for bringing that out. What would you say are the major strengths and weaknesses of New Deal for Young People and why is New Deal not performing as well in inner cities as it does in other areas?
  (Mr Convery) The principal attraction of New Deal to young people is that there is a sense that it is qualitatively different to almost the folk memory of a generation of programmes which did fail many of their participants. Even where those programmes were relatively successful—and I have said often that in retrospect I think the Enterprise Allowance scheme was a much under-rated programme at the time and in retrospect—building on a rather poor heritage of schemes, that word has a range of connotations in everyday parlance. There is a sense amongst young people that it is qualitatively different. That meant that New Deal did start off with a huge advantage. People perceived it as being about real jobs, paying real wages with real employers, that there was an emphasis on getting people into the right job, not any job, that underpinned by the statutory minimum wage legislation people would be better off in work and in some instances with the tax credit regime in place those 18 to 24-year-olds would be even better off in work than on benefits. Certainly the degree of employer engagement has been a tremendously strong suit for New Deal. It is fair to say that a number of employers have had an outstanding experience of New Deal and a number of smaller employers have found it quite hard to deal with. They have been promised recruits: recruits did not arrive. When they did arrive, the match was not quite as good as they had expected. The potential employee had not really been fully briefed about what the work was, what the firm was, what was expected of them and so forth. That has contributed to a degree of dropout and non-sustained unemployment. I am alarmed by the fact that some 40 per cent of placings into work through New Deal have not become sustained jobs and that has translated through to one quarter of all leavers not ending up in sustained employment. Secondly, the way in which the Employment Service has reorientated its services and its culture has been a tremendous success factor. It is now a widely accepted truism that the invention of the new profession of personal adviser has transformed both the culture of the Employment Service and has given a markedly different service, individualised service, to those young people. Thirdly, I would say the sense in which New Deal has run very successfully alongside a growing economy. New Deal would not perform as well in an economy where employment was shrinking, where employers were laying workers off. It has gone with the grain of a growing labour market. One of the things many people will want to pause and think about is that as the labour market starts to dip a little bit, for example this morning's data shows us that for the first time since 1992, employment as a whole has dipped. It dipped by 25,000 in the last quarter. That is a warning signal that the gravity which has helped push New Deal along is starting to phase out.
  (Mr Adebowale) I shall not repeat what Mr Convery said. There are the following reasons for what I think is good about New Deal. First of all it is a coherent programme; it is not called a scheme, it is not a scheme. It was launched well, the media package was attractive to young people. It was offering real jobs, real training. The personal adviser is often cited as a positive experience. It is the one thing which people focus on as being something which is actually helpful. We mentioned changes in the ES. The experience of authority by people generally, but certainly the DSS and ES, is not good. For example, 40 per cent of young people who come to Centrepoint arrive without any benefits whatsoever, so they are hardly going to be wanting to go back down to the local Employment Service and tell all. The fact that yes, he is trying, is noticed. The element of choice or the perception of choice is also useful. It is not a railroading packaging job, there is an element of choice which young people have said they enjoy. There is also an element of follow through; what is happening next is also seen as a positive thing. On the downside, there is a real problem with retention and Mr Convery has given some reasons for that and discrimination is a major problem. It needs to be seen in the context of the wider demographics and linking that to the inner city issue. London has the fastest growing youth population in the country, not because there is a huge number of white young people aged between 16 and 25 in London; in fact exactly the opposite. It has the fastest growing youth population because it has the highest number of minority ethnic 16 to 25-year-olds and it is of some concern that that does not appear to have been taken into account in the design of New Deal. The discrimination and the marketing issues have not really been addressed and I think they need to be and I know the issue of employer engagement certainly is something which will be taken up very vigorously in the design of New Deal II. It worries me that unless we build in some measures to count against employer discrimination, we will have some very embarrassing failures on our hands because it is a fact that Centrepoint's young black and minority ethnic people are better qualified by and large than their white counterparts, yet are twice as likely to be unemployed. There are some positive things which can be done. We think New Deal is pretty close to being a well designed, effective programme. The problems with it lie in the desire to produce figures which are only about job outcomes, thus missing out what could be achieved by progressing people towards the necessary skills and attitudes to be economically active. There are programmes which currently exist which need investment and development which would deliver that but are not seen as important. The issues around the link between New Deal and the benefit system, which are not major issues, if you think about how much New Deal has cost, the changes in the benefit system which would add value to New Deal, housing benefit and the single room reference rents would actually buy in and tie in young people to a programme which could be seen as a real model, but we have yet to do that and it is very frustrating.
  (Mr Butt) A couple of points on the positive side. New Deal has tried to take on a much more open partnership approach to the provision it can get together. Also, in terms of the mapping provision outside the traditional sectors such as FE colleges and existing TECs training providers has been quite positive. Also the Government's commitment to race equality has been most welcome as well. On the negative side black and ethnic minority young people are still being put onto poor provision and are not getting a fair deal from it. Evidence is there to support it. When we look at the environmental task force option, is it really an option for young black people who ultimately just want to get a job? One could say that effort needs to be put onto tackling attitudes for those who are long-term unemployed and if so, is the provision there to meet that sort of need. We need to look at the inner cities and the number of black district managers who are available. It would be interesting to see by region how many black district managers there are, particularly in London, the North West, Yorkshire and Humber. I sincerely believe that if you have more black district managers, more managers at a senior level then you can push forward the products available like the ethnic minority strategy and the closing the gap toolkit for New Deal partnerships, as performance disparities are still there for black and ethnic minority communities. We do know from the research we have done, that very few districts utilise these products whilst it should be part of good management practice. On visits to Liverpool and Slough, for example, it was amazing to see despite the plethora of initiatives and the money being pumped into the inner city areas how very little knowledge the actual district and business managers had on how to utilise that, how to get involved in the partnerships which were occurring outside the New Deal and how they could maximise the opportunities for those young people coming through the door. That is another area for concern because you really need to capacity build so those district managers take these issues head on. The other point I should like to touch upon is the lack of understanding of the baseline statistics coming through as well, particularly from DfEE. When they come through very few units of delivery can break them down and see what sort of impact it is actually having on their own patch. That is another area. At regional level we can provide some expertise to help local units of delivery close those gaps.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. I suspect you all can talk to us at far greater length on those two subjects but I ought to give my colleagues a chance to have a share of the action.

Mr Nicholls

  156. What measures would you consider most important in evaluating the impact of New Deal on youth unemployment? Do the current indicators used to assess the performance of New Deal make sufficient recognition of greater employability that may result from the assistance given to disadvantaged clients under New Deal even if it does not actually result in the person assisted going into a job?
  (Mr Convery) I am not sure I got the first part of your question. I am sorry.

  157. The first point I was driving at was what measures do you think you can use in assessing whether the New Deal has actually been a success or not? How are you going to be able to measure that? Just concentrating on a job as the outcome would actually be unfair, bearing in mind the distance you actually have to travel with some young people in getting them up to base of it.
  (Mr Convery) I certainly think that too much emphasis has been placed on core performance measure A, the simple job entry measure. When you talk to managers in delivery units you get a strong sense of just how important that is in their overall thinking; that is what they are tested on, that after all is what the Employment Service's annual performance agreement places right at the top of its list of targets to be achieved. I would far sooner see a sustained employment target adopted. I should like to see targets which measure earning progression once in work. I should like to see a measure which looks at the vocational qualifications which are achieved and perhaps even some detail about their vocational relevance and so forth. I am very struck by the fact that the core performance measures only measure starts in training, they do not measure completions or achievements. I should certainly like to see that. I should certainly like the best brains we have applied to fixing this thorny question of how to measure distance travelled for people who have a very long distance to travel. Within the context of a very inflexible design, that is impossible. In fact we have people travelling backwards in many ways. If they go through their first phase of New Deal, then they are in the approximately one in five who are recycled through the system, in fact they are travelling backwards not travelling forwards. We need a structure in which people can travel and take some time to do it and a decent way of measuring people who come from very, very low starting points up to mere job readiness perhaps.
  (Mr Adebowale) There are five key measures which are important in assessing New Deal's effectiveness, only one of which is seen as relevant currently and that is basically jobs, getting into jobs. If you are going to look at the impact and New Deal justice, given the investment, job entry is one, progress distance travelled is another and there are methods of doing that—you can assess how credible they are and how scientific they are but certainly Centrepoint has been working on distance travelled measurements for some time now and feel that we have got somewhere with that. There are some subjective measures which need to be taken up. Certainly as a member of the New Deal Task Force we have had some data back on how clients feel about their associations with the ES and that is useful, given that the ES is a service. Feedback from New Deal clients is an important measure. We now have information about what the gap is in terms of discrimination between minority ethnic and white young people, gender and indeed area. We should be looking to close those gaps and there are measures you can take to see trends in that area. We should be taking some key measures of known disadvantaged young people, for instance youth homelessness. We know what the causes of youth homelessness are, we know how prevalent it is and it should be possible to know in London how many New Deal young people are homeless and are now not homeless as a result of being on the New Deal. We should be able to measure those things. That would be my basket of measures if I were to evaluate New Deal.

Judy Mallaber

  158. You referred to the success of the personal advisers innovation as one of the positives and that is certainly something we have highlighted throughout. You have always said this is a good innovation but could you say more about how successful you think they have been in helping young unemployed? In particular do they have adequate training and skills to deal with those who have the more serious problems we have agreed we are getting to, who maybe are recyling and we are finding more difficult and less attractive to employers? Do they have the skills for dealing with them?
  (Mr Adebowale) I would say two things about the issue of recycling. There is the expectation that the lives of young people, particularly disadvantaged young people, are one straight line on which New Deal can place them and move straight through and this is something of an error. In fact most people try more than one job before they hit on the career which leads them to Nirvana. That needs to be taken into account. The reality check here. Young people are like everyone else, they need some guidance but they also need an opportunity to change their minds. That said, the personal advisers, and I have talked to a few personal advisers, are limited in what they can actually do and in fact the disadvantaged young people report made recommendations, one of which was that new advisers were limited in their input into young people because there was some evidence that some of these advisers were taking on too great a case load and going into far too much depth with individual young people, something they are not trained to do and it did not necessarily lead to very positive outcomes. They needed some guidance, almost proforma training so they could identify young people with particular problems immediately and then refer them to other appropriate agencies. That is something which Centrepoint and others have done a lot of work on. There is still some evidence though that the New Deal advisers are not—there is no blame attached here, it is simply a question of the amount of work they have to do—passing young people who have particular problems through smoothly onto appropriate agencies. That is something about knowledge of what is available, how those agencies work, what the referral procedures are. That has been an ongoing problem with the New Deal programme.
  (Mr Convery) There are some different and confusing models of what a personal adviser is and does. We have gone through several stages of trying to figure out what they should and should not do. At first those PAs felt a sense of great liberation that they were to do just about anything and everything they felt was going to be right to help slot somebody into a job or get them up to job readiness. They rapidly found that was not managerially very possible. PAs would be spending enormous amounts of time on just a handful of clients and then the rest of their case load would be backing up. In the Employment Service they have moved to seeing PAs as more like case managers. The analogy I often think of is that of a general practitioner: somebody who has a general set of diagnostic skills, is able to apply a particular approach, take people thus far but beyond that they then go to specialised help. I think the Employment Service should be utilising far more extensively the externally contracted service providers they have available, both in the non-government sector and also in the private sector. The other model of what a PA should be doing is being tested in the areas which are trialling action teams and in the areas which are trying different models for employment zones. In some ways we are going back to testing out the model of an official who really does try to do absolutely everything and go that extra mile and break every single rule. We just need to understand a little bit more about what the precise dynamics are of helping an unemployed person get into work and then create a management structure which PAs in the Employment Service themselves understand. The last thing I would say is that there is one skill PAs perhaps still need to acquire, and it may sound peculiar when I say it, but I do not think they understand employers particularly well. The next frontier of cultural change within the Employment Service is getting PAs and staff right throughout the Service to engage with employers, not to think that if a vacancy comes in it is put on the board, they have some basic information about it, they can see a reasonable match between what the employer wants and what the candidate is offering and the two will go together. A long-term account or case-managed approach to employers is essential. When a vacancy comes in, a PA says not only do I know what that job is all about, I know the employer, I know what they are after, I know what their business is, I understand the look and feel of that firm, to get more under the skin of an employer and understand what it is they really require from a candidate. That is the next big tranche of skills that PAs have to adopt.
  (Mr Butt) Very quickly a point about the dynamics of a personal adviser. Anybody who has been unemployed, has been disadvantaged by society or been homeless, will know the sort of lengths you have to go to in order to get someone long-term unemployed into work. Some personal advisers have that sort of knowledge and that sort of empathy but others very often do not. One thing I did find from some of the visits I have been on, is that there is a communication gap between the district and business managers and personal advisers about the sort of technical support needed. For example, research reports have been done around New Deal which can assist the personal advisers in trying something different with their clients. Another point is the poor quality training being offered to personal advisers, particularly around racial equality. Very often it is a one-day awareness course with no follow-through, nothing, not even trying out different models. We really need to look at the quality and nature of training offered to personal advisers. The other point was around the whole New Deal marketing team and the relationship with employers. Many of the marketing team are just recycled advisers in the first instance, Benefit Agency advisers who have no real experience of dealing with employers and thus they cannot relate those experiences on to New Deal personal advisers at the front line, particularly in cases of dealing with employer discrimination. That is a very major cause for concern. In Liverpool, when they were trying to arrange some breakfast meetings, they were only getting a handful of businesses turning up to these meetings and we are talking about big businesses here. There are hundreds of small businesses in the Merseyside region and to get so few for New Deal business meetings really shows a lack of training and a lack of quality staff in place to deal with employers.

  159. We know that in some areas there has been a high turnover of personal advisers, particularly in inner city areas. In my area the personal advisers have moved on because they are now running the one-service pilot schemes, which is a different issue. Do you have any particular reasons why you think there has been a high turnover and has that had an impact on how effective New Deal has been? I do not know whether some of the factors you have mentioned would have been some of the contributory issues.
  (Mr Adebowale) These are tough jobs, often in tough areas. I went to visit some ES offices up in Glasgow and I certainly think they are dealing with pretty tough cases. If you look at any profession where you are constantly under pressure to deliver against tough deadlines that you have not actually been involved in setting, you will find there is a high burnout rate. They are being asked to do a lot and it seems that the pressure on the personal adviser continues to grow in terms of the number of things they have to think about. The comparison with the GPs is very accurate actually because the skills required are almost the same if you are going to get it right.
  (Mr Convery) The Employment Service faces recruitment and retention problems like any other employer. It compounds that problem by having a career progression structure which involves quite a lot of small increments, each increment usually having to be triggered by moving from one place to another. If the Employment Service had a career progression approach in which people could be promoted whilst in effect staying pretty much in place doing their current job but doing it better, with additional responsibilities and so forth, that would lessen the impact of people constantly being moved around. I think that is probably a more significant dynamic than the business about people going off to travel round the world or whatever. That is more important than retention problems. You see it throughout the public sector. You have to move from one place to another in order to take even a small step up a ladder and that means the contact of the client is always going to be fragmented.
  (Mr Adebowale) There is another issue which is about the use of the voluntary sector. The bureaucracy was a real major problem in making New Deal actually work, certainly for Centrepoint. I considered pulling us out at one point because we were filling out forms more than actually getting on with the programme. I keep referring to the disadvantaged report because it is important that we understand a lot of the innovations have been written about and are known, they just have to be done, they just have to be handled. Actually disadvantaged young people are not known by the ES, they are more likely to be known by the voluntary sector than any other sector. There is lots of research to back that up. One of the recommendations in the report was that the mountain should be brought to Mohammed, there should be more outreach, more ES work done by voluntary sector agencies who could actually do the personal adviser work so there was less pressure on personal advisers, particularly in high stress areas. There is not enough of that going on at the moment.

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