Select Committee on Work and Pensions Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Department for Work and Pensions (OP 08)


  1.  The Memorandum sets out:

    —  the development of the new Jobcentre Plus service;

    —  how the new work-focussed benefits system will affect those with poor health or disability;

    —  the background to the ONE pilots and their objectives;

    —  and lessons, so far, from the evaluations of the ONE pilots and how we are taking these forward in Jobcentre Plus.

  2.  The work-focussed benefits system is designed to rebuild the welfare state around work. It provides a single gateway to the benefit system for all people of working age with a clear focus on work as well as ensuring greater help for those who can't. So for the first time there will be a real work focus for customers claiming benefits other than Jobseeker's Allowance.

  3.  With Jobcentre Plus, we will build on the experience from the ONE pilots and other programmes such as the New Deals. Through Jobcentre Plus the labour market focus will be present in all our dealings with our customers. In particular we want to support and encourage a wider range of people, such as lone parents and disabled people, to see work or their return to work as a real objective. Equally the new service will support employers to recruit the people they need to fill their vacancies quickly and successfully.

  4.  From October 2001 people making new or repeat claims in Jobcentre Plus offices to non-JSA working age benefits including Incapacity Benefit will participate in a work-focussed interview and a review at least every three years. The aim is to encourage them to think about work, joining a New Deal or to participate in a series of voluntary meetings with a personal adviser (caseload) to start preparing for work, as appropriate to the individual.

  5.  The ONE pilots were set up so that we could learn how to provide an holistic service tailored to the needs of individuals through the use of personal advisers and helping people to overcome barriers to work. It is also enabling us to introduce flexibility into the style of channels we use to deliver our services.

  6.  The evaluation of the ONE pilots is still ongoing but early indications show support for the ONE service and a positive experience by participants and staff. We have used early evidence to develop policy. Early intervention is changing attitudes and providing help to look for work as either a short or longer-term option. But it is too early to say whether ONE has been successful in increasing the probability of a person going into work.


  1.  This memorandum has been prepared for the Work and Pensions Select Committee for their inquiry: Towards a work-focussed agenda: lessons from the "ONE" pilots. It provides the Committee with information on the proposals for the introduction of Jobcentre Plus; the extension of work-focussed interviews; the background to ONE and a summary of lessons from the ONE evaluation so far.

  2.  The Government is rebuilding the welfare state around work. For both individuals and families paid work is the most secure means of averting poverty and dependence. We are forging an entirely new culture designed to help people to help themselves.

Overview of the Government's Welfare to Work Policies to date

  3.  We are promoting work by developing flexible personalised services in the New Deals; lowering the barriers to work; ensuring that work pays; and ensuring that responsibilities and rights are fairly matched.

    —  The introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 is helping those in lower paid jobs.

    —  The New Deal for Young People gives longer-term unemployed people aged 18 to 24 real help in finding work and real choices to improve their employability and their chances of fully participating in the labour market.

    —  The New Deal for 25 Plus helps long-term unemployed people aged 25 and over find work and, where needed, provides tailored flexible help to improve their employability.

    —  The New Deal for Lone Parents offers Lone Parents claiming Income Support a comprehensive package of advice and support to look for work including jobsearch, childcare, training and in-work benefits.

    —  The New Deal for Disabled People is piloting a range of approaches to find out what works best to help disabled people overcome the barriers into work.

    —  The New Deal for Partners provides partners of working age benefit claimants, who are themselves unemployed, with the help they need to take up work.

    —  The New Deal for 50 Plus helps people aged 50 or over who have been unemployed for at least six months (those claiming JSA/IS/IB/SDA and their dependent partners) to move into work.

    —  Employment Zones aim to help long-term unemployed people get and keep work. Funds from different sources are pooled and used by contractors in flexible ways to provide innovative solutions according to individual needs. The 15 Employment Zones, operating in those areas of Britain with some of the highest levels of long-term unemployment, will run until March 2003. Participation is mandatory.

    —  Action Teams for Jobs are tackling endemic unemployment in deprived areas by using flexible, innovative approaches that will help people overcome the barriers to work. There are currently 40 Action Teams for Jobs located across Great Britain.

    —  The ONE pilots bring together the Benefits Agency, Employment Service, local authorities and the private/voluntary sector to deliver a modern service through individual personal advisers. These pilots seek to bring more benefit recipients in touch with the labour market and to change the benefits culture from financial dependence to work and independence. Twelve pilots were launched in 1999 and will run until various dates between April 2002 and April 2003. The findings from the ONE pilots are being fed into the development of the new Jobcentre Plus service.

    —  Tax and Benefit reforms have been introduced to ease the transition into work through measures such as the benefit run-ons. The tax system has been changed by the introduction of Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) and Disabled Person's Tax Credit (DPTC). These both help to ensure that work pays.

In the Future

  4.  There is still more to do: there are still nearly a million unemployed people looking for work and there are many more economically inactive clients who would like to work, including lone parents, older workers and people with disabilities, who have often been written off in the past.

  5.  The next steps to be taken towards the Government's commitment announced in The Employment Green Paper: "Towards Full Employment in a Modern Society" include ambitious targets to:

    —  ensure a higher proportion of people in work than ever before;

    —  raise the proportion of lone parents in work to 70 per cent;

    —  improve the literacy and numeracy of three-quarters of a million adults;

    —  reduce differences between the employment rates of ethnic groups/disadvantaged areas and the overall rate;

    —  halve child poverty over ten years and eliminate it completely within 20 years.

  6.  This autumn will see the extension of the New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP) to all lone parents who are out of work or working less than 16 hours, bringing this service to a further 150,000 lone parents. From April 2001, a training premium of £15 per week is paid to those taking up work-focussed training through the NDLP. From the same date childcare funding will be provided through the NDLP in the first year of a lone parents taking up a new part time job of less than 16 hours a week. An outreach service is also being planned from next year to contact lone parents who may be reluctant to come to a Jobcentre.

  7.  The new Jobcentre Plus service will combine the Employment Service and the parts of the Benefits Agency dealing with people of working age to deliver a single, integrated service to benefit claimants of working age, with a clear focus on work. As a first step some 50 Jobcentre Plus pathfinders and 40 adjacent work-focussed interview sites will begin delivering work-focussed interviews to the "flow" (those coming on to benefit) of people claiming benefit. The pathfinders will reshape the whole way services are delivered to people of working age who are claiming benefits to offer an individualised service; tailored to a person's circumstances; a smarter use of IT and more work-focussed interviews. The new organisation will help more people with finding a job than before. It will also provide people with information on what benefits and tax credits they can claim, when they are out of work and in work, and then pay the correct benefits on time.

  8.  The new service will also have a parallel, and equally key, focus on employers' needs and those of important sectors of the economy in areas of: vacancy filling, skills training and regional manpower planning.

  9.  The Employment Green Paper announced a £120 million extension and expansion of Action Teams and nearly £40 million for supported employment for disabled people. In October 2001 there will be 53 teams in operation, and by January 2002, there will be 63 Action Teams funded to run until March 2004.  

  10.  From July 2001 the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) was extended across the country, enabling all disabled people to access specialist help and support to find work. The NDDP will be integrated into the Jobcentre Plus service delivery model, as personal advisers will advise appropriate customers of the services of their local NDDP job brokers.


  11.  At the Labour Party conference in September 1998 the Prime Minister announced his intention to introduce a "single Work-focussed Gateway". Later that year a Department of Social Security and Department for Education and Employment joint command paper A new contract for welfare: The gateway to work set out this proposal further (Command Paper 4102, October 1998).

  12.  A new contract for welfare described plans to establish a `single point of access to welfare . . . in which everyone who has the potential to work is provided with help to find it"—putting "work first". While accepting that this intention was not appropriate for everyone all of the time, the introduction of a "rights with responsibilities" agenda marked a turning point in the state's relationship with individuals claiming benefit.

  13.  As a consequence the ONE pilots (formerly the single work-focussed gateway) were launched in 1999 to test different ways of delivering joined-up benefit and employment services. This pilot service is described in paragraphs 41 to 54. The Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 provided for regulations to be made so that certain claims or entitlement to certain benefits are conditional on the person taking part in a work-focussed interview to discuss work prospects and obstacles to work, and to have the opportunity to learn about the services available to help them move towards employment. The benefits are: Income Support; Housing Benefit; Council Tax Benefit; Bereavement Benefits; Incapacity Benefit; Severe Disablement Allowance (no new claims to SDA have been taken since 6 April 2001) and Invalid Care Allowance, similar conditions already applied to Jobseeker's Allowance (Jobseekers Act 1995).


What is Jobcentre Plus?

  14.  The most significant development for those of working age claiming benefits over the next couple of years will undoubtedly be the advent of Jobcentre Plus. Jobcentre Plus, building on the experience of ONE, aims to accelerate the move from a welfare system that primarily provides passive support to one that provides active support to help people become more independent, based on work for those who can and security for those who cannot.

  15.  The new organisation will have a new culture, and will be firmly focussed on helping people to become independent. It will further embed rights and responsibilities within the welfare system. Personal advisers will steer people towards work or training, and provide additional support tailored to a person's needs. Financial assessors will help people claim the benefits they need. For employers Jobcentre Plus will provide a proactive and responsive service helping people to find jobs and helping employers to fill their vacancies.

  16.  The Government is aiming this autumn to establish some 50 Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices (listed in Annex A). Jobcentre Plus will become a national organisation on 1 April 2002 and ES and BA will then cease to exist.

Jobcentre Plus' objectives

  17.  Jobcentre Plus aims to provide:

    —  a work-focus to the benefits system, for everyone using our services;

    —  a dedicated service to enable employers to fill their vacancies quickly and successfully;

    —  swift, secure and professional access to benefits for those entitled to them;

    —  a much better service for everyone who needs our help;

    —  active help from personal advisers to help people get and keep work;

    —  a better working environment for our staff, which will be safe and professional;

    —  greatly improved IT, accommodation and support services to deliver an efficient and effective service.

Who will Jobcentre Plus affect?

  18.  Jobcentre Plus will deliver a single, integrated service to those of working age claiming: Jobseekers Allowance; Income Support; Incapacity Benefit; Severe Disablement Allowance (for existing claimants only); Maternity Allowance; Bereavement Benefit; Industrial Injury Disablement Benefits (only applies to Maternity Allowance or IIDB if someone is claiming another benefit from this list) and Invalid Care Allowance, and access to Social Fund payments to people of working age.

  19.  Currently Jobcentre Plus will deliver work-focussed interviews for new or repeat claims to the benefits listed in para. 18. Personal advisers' meetings for the "stock" of lone parents (ie those already claiming benefits) will also be delivered through Jobcentre Plus offices in pathfinder areas.

  20.  Unlike in ONE areas, claiming Housing or Council Tax Benefit will not be conditional on participation in a work-focussed interview in Jobcentre Plus pathfinder areas (with the exception, temporarily, of ONE sites which will become Jobcentre Plus pathfinder sites). This is because in Jobcentre Plus we plan to build close working relations with local authorities and to develop a shared agenda, including improving the liaison on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit and a wider agenda on economic development. If we get these partnerships right we shall reap the same benefit as in the ONE pilots.

What is the Jobcentre Plus process?

  21.  The Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices will have a three step process along the lines of the ONE call centre variant.

  22.  There will be:

    —  An information gathering stage. People will be encouraged to make contact by phone and speak with a customer service representative who will collect basic information necessary for identification purposes. Initial decisions about a person's job readiness will be assessed. If they are job ready, they will be helped, wherever possible, to find a job. This will apply to all, not only to people on Jobseeker's Allowance. There will be an assessment of benefit needs including immediate financial need. At this stage a person will be assigned to a personal adviser. It is also at this stage that a decision may be taken that an initial work-focussed interview would not be appropriate for a client and the interview would either be deferred or in exceptional circumstances waived.

    —  An interview stage. At this stage the person will be first seen by a benefit financial assessor who will check their claim form and make sure all the relevant evidence is included. The person will then have a work-focussed interview with a personal adviser. The personal adviser will encourage them to join a caseload on a voluntary basis so they can access help available through the New Deals. For Incapacity Benefit clients caseloading will generally be through New Deal for Disabled People Job Brokers. Finally, they will see the benefit expert again and leave the office with the certainty that their benefit claim is being processed or if further evidence is needed before the claim is processed.

    —  Jobcentre Plus will also conduct "trigger interviews", where attendance will be mandatory if benefit is to remain in payment. Annex B gives the conditions for "trigger interviews". Also, like in ONE, clients will be offered the opportunity to meet and speak with their personal advisers on a voluntary basis to continue working towards independence.

Work-focussed Interview Sites

  23.  In addition to Jobcentre Plus pathfinder sites we are establishing "work-focussed interview" sites. The process in these offices will be very similar to the work-focussed interviews for lone parents with youngest child aged 5 or over (known as personal adviser meetings), which have been introduced nationwide. Under this system, when a person comes into the Benefits Agency office to claim specific benefits, the claim is not legally "made" until they participate in a work-focussed interview. Benefits Agency staff will usually refer the person to the Jobcentre for an interview. Although the service is not integrated it will require close co-operation between Benefits Agency and the Employment Service for it to work. These sites do not have the same integrated management structures, IT support and brand identity of Jobcentre Plus pathfinders but they are an essential tool in our work towards maximising opportunities for the largest number of people.

  24.  Around 40 offices from Autumn 2001 will operate as work-focussed interview sites. The nine areas where these sites will be located are: Aberdeen, Livingston, Bridgend, Telford, Wallasey, Manchester Openshaw, Derby, Gateshead and Essex. The sites will be adjacent to the Jobcentre Plus pathfinder areas to help us to manage the change effectively and to maximise the scope for people to share good practice.


  25.  Since the launch of the ONE pilots, the Employment Service has invested £400 million in a major IT modernisation programme. The programme provides 24 hour electronic access for clients and will improve the operation of the labour market.

  26.  The vision at the outset of the programme has been to provide Jobcentre Plus with first class IT support for staff and clients in line with the Government's Modernising Government commitment.

  27.  In addition to access to the main ES and BA operational databases, and office automation applications, IT in Jobcentre Plus offices will include:

    —  A client handling system. "Client handling" is part of the initial contact of the client/appointee. The information on this system will be available to all Jobcentre Plus staff who have contact with clients. Jobcentre Plus staff should be able to access any records in any office within their cluster area.

    —  There will be a "Better-off Calculator" in all pathfinders and all staff will have this available on their PCs. We have learnt from our experiences in ONE and the New Deals that better-off calculations have a major impact on people's decisions to consider work opportunities. It will give calculations based on examples of jobs and actual vacancies. It will calculate the range and level of benefits a person may be entitled to both in and out of work. It will therefore provide a practical illustration that most people will be better-off in work.

    —  All frontline staff will have access to the internal Intranet from which they can obtain a wide range of information to advise clients.

    —  New IT infrastructure. Programmes are underway to replace the IT infrastructure within all Jobcentres and Benefits Agency offices across the country. New infrastructure will be installed in Jobcentre Plus pathfinder sites before they open.

    —  The job bank database. This is the largest job bank in Europe with information of around 500,000 jobs and opportunities. As well as holding all current Employment Service vacancies the job bank includes private sector agency, European and other international vacancies. The job bank will be accessible to advisers from their IT workstations. Individuals will be able to access the job bank on the internet through the Employment Service and Jobcentre Plus websites and from the worktrain website. The latter also includes the Learndirect database on education and training opportunities.

    —  Jobpoints—these are touch screen kiosks where people can search the national job bank. Jobpoints are currently being installed in all Jobcentres replacing the traditional vacancy display boards and will be a standard feature in all Jobcentre Plus offices. Jobpoints are supported by "customer use telephones" for contacting employers or people can use the existing Employment Service Direct telephone job broking service.

    —  Internet Access—PCs linked to the internet will be available to Jobcentre Plus staff and clients. As well as providing access to the job bank and worktrain sites, they will enable people to access sites for other information on, for example, housing, childcare and transport.

    —  Service and accessibility for employers is also being improved. A new national service, Employer Direct, will give employers a single national telephone number on which to place vacancies and 24-hour electronic access to Jobcentre services. Eight out of eleven Customer Service Centres are already operating and the rest are planned to open by the end of 2001. We are introducing account managers for employers and having demand led and sector based programmes to meet employer's needs to fill vacancies with suitable skilled staff.


Changes to Incapacity Benefit

  28.  In the past, many people were moved onto Incapacity Benefit (IB) with limited help in ensuring that they got the right level of support. There was no help to get people into work, nor any support or rehabilitation. New IB customers in the ONE pilot areas are required to attend a work-focussed interview. This will enable IB customers to discuss with their personal adviser the help and opportunities available to them. The interviews also provide an ideal opportunity for people to participate in the New Deal schemes.

  29.  From October 2001, people making new or repeat claims to IB (along with others claiming relevant benefits) in the Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices will be asked to participate in a work-focussed interview and a review, or trigger interview, as appropriate.

  30.  The aim of the review will be to encourage these clients to think about work or joining a New Deal or caseload to start preparing for work. One outcome of the review is that we may find that they are not receiving the benefit to which they are entitled. But the point of the review is work focussed, although as in the ONE pilots, no one will be forced to consider work against their will.

  31.  From April 2002, we are introducing new, fairer and more flexible permitted work rules. These rules will provide a stepping stone to full-time work for people receiving Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support on the grounds of incapacity.

New Deal for Disabled People

  32.  Under the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) a wide range of innovative approaches in helping people on incapacity benefit are being tested and evaluated.

  33.  Twenty four innovative schemes ran from September 1998 until June 2001 by the public, voluntary and private sectors plus twelve personal adviser pilots led by the Employment Service, private sector, local government and voluntary sectors. The schemes covered a range of disabilities and areas of the country, and tested innovative ways of helping disabled people and carers who want to work.

  34.  By the end of June 2001, the NDDP pilots had already helped over 8,200 disabled people into work.

  35.  From July 2001, the NDDP began to be extended nationally, continuing to test out ways of helping people on incapacity benefits into work. Building on the experience of ONE, a "Gateway" is being introduced within the Employment Service, offering a work-focussed interview on a voluntary basis to all those newly claiming incapacity benefit. The Gateway will encourage new clients to re-assess their capacity for work and, where appropriate, will encourage them to make contact with the new network of job brokers that is being set up across Great Britain under NDDP.

  36.  The network of job brokers will provide support and services to people on incapacity benefit who want to work and to their employers. The aim is to achieve lasting paid employment for sick and disabled people.

  37.  Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices will provide work-focussed interviews on a mandatory basis for those newly claiming Incapacity Benefit, thus subsuming the NDDP Gateway role in the existing 17 pathfinder areas. Job brokers will remain the primary source of ongoing support following that initial interview.


  38.  Jobcentre Plus builds on the experience that we have gained as a result of the ONE pilots and other welfare-to-work initiatives. In putting in place Jobcentre Plus, we are building on the lessons from ONE. This is central to our aim of putting work at the heart of the process of claiming benefit, and at the core of all the transactions that we have with those claiming benefits.

What is ONE?

  39.  ONE is a pilot service designed to offer a streamlined service through bringing together the Employment Service, Benefits Agency and local authorities into a single point of contact. They seek to put work and helping people to overcome obstacles to work at the heart of the benefit system through requiring all new clients to consider their capacity to work and their position with respect to the labour market prior to receiving benefit. It was developed to try out a new approach to matching benefit delivery with a focus on work.

ONE's objectives

    —  To put more benefit recipients in touch with the labour market (through the intervention of their personal adviser);

    —  To increase the sustainable level of employment by getting more benefit recipients into work;

    —  To ensure that more clients experience effective, efficient service that is tailored to their personal needs;

    —  To change the culture of the benefits system and the general public towards independence and work rather than payments and dependence.

ONE Launch

  40.  The first ONE pilots were launched in June 1999 for the basic model and in November 1999 for the call centres and private and voluntary sector variants, and are being piloted in twelve areas until varying dates between April 2002 and April 2003. Annex C gives a full list of the ONE areas and offices. A pilot model is made up of four areas and together these are complemented by four control areas—a list of these is also given in Annex C. Three different models are being tested:

    —  The "basic model" started in June 1999 in Clyde Coast and Renfrew, South East Essex, Lea Roding (North East London) and Warwickshire.

    —  The call centre version, where the use of telephony for initial contact and claim is being tested, started in November 1999 in Buckinghamshire, Calderdale and Kirklees, South East Gwent and Somerset.

    —  A version of the basic model, where private and voluntary organisations are the lead delivery partners also started in November 1999 in Leeds, North Cheshire, North Nottinghamshire and Suffolk.

    —  Since 3 April 2000, new clients have been required, as a condition for receipt of benefit, to participate in a work-focussed meeting in the pilot areas—previously it was offered on a voluntary basis. People are required to meet with their personal adviser at specific "trigger points" (when changes in their circumstances mean that a work-focussed meeting might be helpful).

Who does ONE affect?

  41.  Everyone in the pilot area who:

    —  is aged 16 to 59;

    —  is not working or works less than 16 hours a week on average; and

    —  wants to claim a ONE benefit. (See list of benefits in paragraph 13).

  People aged 60 or over can choose to join or stay in ONE on a voluntary basis but participation in a work-focussed interview is not a condition of receiving benefit.

  42.  Several organisations, including some of the key voluntary groups such as Gingerbread, provided help with developing the training products for ONE personal advisers. This ensured that all ONE personal advisers understood the key barriers to work experienced by those claiming benefit. All personal advisers are trained in interpersonal skills in order to ensure empathy and that each benefit client is treated as an individual with unique barriers to work that may require sensitive handling. Their role is two-fold as, in addition to moving people towards independence, they also ensure that for benefit clients, especially those for whom work is unlikely to be an option, the process of making a claim is as smooth as possible.

What is the ONE process?

  43.  Start up, ONE begins with a start-up meeting to find out a person's basic background information and their work history. The start-up adviser discusses what kinds of work the person may be able to do, provides job matching if appropriate, looks at what other options might be open to them, and identifies if they need any specialised help and support. The start-up adviser gives them the forms to claim benefits, and arranges for them to see a personal adviser within four days.

  44.  The client is informed at this stage of what evidence they need to bring along to their personal adviser meeting. They are then given an appointment date and time. Where an immediate meeting with a personal adviser is inappropriate the meeting will be deferred for a period of time or, in exceptional cases, waived altogether.

  45.  Personal adviser meeting, the next stage is the first personal adviser meeting. The personal adviser discusses and agrees action plans with clients to help them move towards work and become independent of benefits. The personal adviser offers:

    —  help with finding work as appropriate;

    —  training to help them become ready for work;

    —  help with claiming benefits and child support; and

    —  help with special problems, such as basic skills courses or debt counselling.

  46.  The personal adviser can also give information about other benefits. While the meeting with the personal adviser is taking place the person's claim forms and evidence are passed to the relevant benefit expert. This is so the forms can be checked at the same time and if any further information is needed to process the benefit claim the person can be asked for this information before they leave the office.

  47.  Follow-up meetings, people are encouraged to continue to see their personal adviser through follow-up meetings when they need to discuss help with getting a job; specialists needs; questions about benefits, or if their circumstances have changed.

How do the three models work?

  48.  The basic model pilot was started in June 1999. It provides 'start-up" and "personal adviser" meetings for those entering ONE. The start-up meeting will take place at a "ONE" centre, which may be a Benefits Agency, Employment Service or local authority office. At the end of the start-up meeting an appointment will normally be made for a meeting with a personal adviser.

  49.  The call centre variant began in November 1999, and follows the basic model, but is testing the impact of providing part of our service by telephone, including data gathering. The call centre pilots are making use of current technology, such as the scripted client handling systems and the integrated electronic claim form to support delivery. In delivering "start-up", the call centre splits the phone call in two (a short incoming call, followed by the full "start-up" in an arranged call-back). This enables the demand of incoming calls to be managed and allows the full interview to be conducted at our expense, and at a time that suits the client. The adviser takes the benefit claim over the telephone and people are sent a copy of the benefit claim form pre-printed with the details that they have provided, together with advice about what to do next, ie items to bring to the personal adviser meeting. The personal adviser interviews are then carried out face-to-face, as in the basic model.

  50.  The service operates using a local call rate for incoming calls and is available from 8.30 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday. The call centre variant uses technology to manage the intake of in-bound calls from clients. If the site is busy, the call will be transferred to another site. The start-up adviser at the other site will take the incoming call and book a call-back at the client's "home" site.

  51.  A residual start-up service is offered face to face to those who cannot or prefer not to use the phone. Private phones are available in ONE and other Employment Service/Benefits Agency/local authority sites within the pilot areas for those who do not own one; for people with hearing difficulties a minicom service is available in the call centre. A translation service is also available in the call centre.

  52.  The private and voluntary sector variant also began in November 1999. It aims to incorporate the enthusiasm, expertise and knowledge of the private and voluntary sector to develop innovative and flexible ways of delivering "ONE" in four of the twelve pilot areas. The organisations are listed in Annex C. These organisations work in close partnership with the public sector to provide a seamless delivery.

  53.  The private and voluntary sector providers are expected to meet the specific needs of all of the client groups and are expected to provide the "ONE" service to the same standard as the other pilots.

Extension of the ONE pilots

  54.  It would have been possible to bring the ONE pilots to a conclusion at the end of March 2002. However, that would have resulted in returning to the old approach. The improved ONE is moving us closer to the new Jobcentre Plus service than our standard ES/BA operations and because of that we have decided to keep track of progress for a further year. In that time we will reflect further on how to bring the ONE areas into the Jobcentre Plus regime. In addition, the early experiences of ONE have influenced both the design of the new Jobcentre Plus service and improvements in the design of ONE itself. This enables us to test our future approach for a better client-focussed service and we can still learn from the experience of the ONE pilots. We have also offered the private and voluntary sector providers an extension to their contracts of one year from April 2002; at the end of such a contract period we will have more concrete plans about how and at what rate we will extend Jobcentre Plus across the country.


How is ONE being evaluated?

  55.  The ONE evaluation comprises four complementary elements:

    —  a delivery evaluation, investigating how ONE is implemented;

    —  a policy evaluation exploring the impact of the service on labour market outcomes;

    —  cost-benefit analysis, and

    —  a database evaluation, monitoring information on administrative records.

  56.  The evaluation of ONE has two main aims:

    (i)  To test the feasibility of delivering ONE in the different variations (the basic model and its two variants, the call centre and private/voluntary sector models); and

    (ii)  To test the effectiveness of the different models in improving both the quality and quantity of the labour market participation of people of working age.

  57.  The first results from the ONE evaluation were published on 30 November 2000 in three reports: "Why not ONE?", "First effects of ONE" and "ONE basic model pilot and control areas, analyses from the ONE evaluation database voluntary phase." It should be emphasized that all three reports provide findings from the ONE evaluation for the period when the pilots were voluntary. The broad findings from this research indicate support for the ONE service and a positive experience of claiming by those who chose to participate. There is also evidence that early intervention is changing attitudes and providing help to look for work as either a short or longer-term option.

    —  A further two reports were published in June 2001: "Recruiting Benefit Claimants" and "Moving towards Work". These reports, which are the first since full participation began (in April 2000), cover the attitudes of employers to the groups served by ONE and clients' experiences of the ONE service. A further two reports were published in October 2001: "The Medium-term Effects of Voluntary Participation in ONE" and "Recruiting Benefit Claimants: A Qualitative Study of Employers who Recruited Benefit Claimants".

  59.  The published research reports from the voluntary stage are:

    (i)  DSS Research Report no. 126, "First Effects of ONE", Part One: Survey of Clients, Part Two: Qualitative Research with Clients.

    (ii)  DSS Research Report no. 127, "Why Not ONE?" Views of Non-Participants before Full Participation.

    (iii)  "ONE Basic Model Pilot and Control Areas: Analysis from the ONE Evaluation Database Voluntary Phase 28 June 1999—31 March 2000", available on

    (iv)  DWP Research Report no. 149, "The Medium-term Effects of Voluntary Participation in ONE".

  60.  And from the full participation stage:

    (i)  DSS Research Report no. 139, "Recruiting Benefit Claimants: A Survey of Employers in ONE Pilot Areas".

    (ii)  DSS Research Report no. 140, "Moving towards Work: The Short-term Impact of ONE".

    (iii)  DWP Research Report no. 150, "Recruiting Benefit Claimants: A Qualitative Study of Employers who Recruited Benefit Claimants".

    (iv)  DWP In House Series no. 84, "Delivering A Work-Focussed Service: Interim Findings from the ONE Case Studies and Staff Research".

  61.  Quantitative information on the medium-term labour market effects (nine months after joining ONE during the voluntary phase) should be available in autumn 2001.

  62.  For the full participation stage of the pilots, quantitative information on the immediate labour market effects should be available in autumn 2001, and for medium-term effects in winter 2001-02. (The report on the medium-term effects may not be published until the end of 2002, if the Secretary of State decides to extend the analysis to be conducted for this report.)

  63.  Final results from the evaluation are due in the second half of 2002 and this will include findings from the cost benefit analysis.

  64.  A summary of the evaluation findings, so far, is provided in Annex D.

Attitudes and expectations of work-focussed meetings: what works and what doesn't

  65.  Listed are findings from research so far on clients' attitudes and expectations of the work-focussed approach to claiming benefit. It is currently too early to tell whether ONE has been successful in its objective of increasing the probability of a client entering into employment. Initial quantitative evidence on the employment effects will be available at the end of 2001.

  66.  It should also be noted that compulsory work-focussed interviews were not fully up and running during the majority of the period being analysed. Results may therefore underestimate the potential impact.

What works in ONE

    —  Clients viewed personal advisers and start-up as friendly and helpful and appreciated "personal" support.

    —  Generally, clients considered the call centre to be highly convenient (especially those in rural areas or with access problems eg people with physical disabilities,[1] or those with children). Clients' experience of making a claim electronically was positive, as they did not have to deal with unwieldy and complicated forms. They also preferred the privacy and security of making their claim by telephone at their convenience, allowing time to gather relevant information and have the call-back completed when they wanted it. Although some clients expressed a preference for face-to-face meetings at start-up (which seems to point towards the need to continuing a face-to-face service for a small number of clients).

    —  Clients were positive about the benefits that ONE offered them during initial meetings. They appreciated the help they received at the start of their claim and the discussion about benefit eligibility and in-work benefits.

    —  Discussing benefits first gives clients peace of mind, resulting in the clients being more comfortable about going on to discuss work.

    —  Lone parents who had a better-off calculation were over three times as likely to be in work as other clients, as the client felt more supported in the jump from benefit to work.

    —  Those who had dependent children and who discussed childcare were nearly twice as likely to be in work as other clients with children.

    —  Where a good relationship was established between a client and personal adviser, the client was more likely to seek further advice and assistance. Many clients felt confident that their personal adviser would be supportive if they felt they needed further assistance or if they wanted to return to work.

    —  Personal advisers helped job-ready clients develop more targeted job search strategies, increasing clients' self-confidence, as well as their confidence in their job search and work goals. Many subsequently moved into work or started vocational training.

    —  Among those who had contacted an office during the later stages of their claim, both lone parents and sick or disabled ONE participants continued to give more favourable assessments than non-participants of the service they had received.

    —  One of the biggest impacts of ONE was on clients who had recently lost a partner—either through bereavement or separation. The space and sympathy personal advisers gave to these clients helped them to deal with their situations and reflect on their next steps, including whether they may be able to consider work later.

    —  Among those who said work was not an option (mainly carers, lone parents or sick or disabled clients) personal advisers were able to change some clients' attitudes to the possibility of work. Exploring the different options available and discussing previous work experience enabled a few clients to feel that work was a realistic option.

    —  Clients appreciated the time personal advisers devoted to checking claim forms and resolving any queries. They especially welcomed guidance on when they could expect to receive their payments and appreciated personal advisers' honesty where their knowledge of the benefit being claimed was patchy.

    —  Where they were present, the development of trained benefit experts enabled personal advisers to concentrate on work activities, safe in the knowledge that benefit issues were being dealt with.

What doesn't work in ONE[2]

  There are a number of findings which are being addressed as we move towards the launch of Jobcentre Plus.

    —  Clients felt advisers did not always have the skills to address complex benefit issues or explore how their personal circumstances might affect their ability to find work.

    —  Findings from the staff and client research indicate that advisers sometimes didn't have either the full range of skills or enough time to identify and address clients' needs, undertake appropriate discussions about work, nor to refer clients to relevant specialist provision, or undertake caseloading. (Work is currently being undertaken to improve this.)

    —  Communication of ONE was sometimes unclear—hence clients' expectations varied and some people did not understand what the service could offer them.

    —  Some clients for whom work was not an immediate option eg widows, full-time carers or those recently incapacitated thought that the timing of the work-focussed interview was inappropriate. They would have preferred to have had the meeting once their situation had stabilised and they were able to focus on work issues.

    —  Also, the impact of ONE on the attitudes and behaviour of these clients (who saw work as an option for the future) was limited, as discussions with personal advisers tended to concentrate on benefits rather than work.

    —  Some personal adviser meetings lasted between 15-30 minutes, where they were intended to be around 45 minutes. Clients assumed that this was because staff are very busy, although it did affect the time spent on talking about work.

    —  Research has shown that in reality clients did not have much of a follow-up contact with personal advisers.

    —  Advice about jobs was not a significant factor in determining whether a lone parent; sick or disabled client would find work. Jobseekers who were given job or in-work benefit advice were less likely to be in work 10 months after beginning their claim than other clients, although this may be because those who were given advice may have been the "hardest to help".

    —  ONE did not seem to challenge or change expectations of those jobseekers with previous experience of claiming. They mostly saw the ONE service as the same as the usual JSA process. Some even thought that the advice offered through ONE was not up to the standard of the previous JSA process.

How have we changed ONE

  67.  Experience and the lessons from the early evaluation of the pilots showed the need to make changes in some areas and many of these have been implemented over the past few months. For example we have set minimum standards and processes are in place to improve the service.

  68.  We recently introduced in ONE a more sensitive and active deferral policy for some sick and disabled clients, and for those recently widowed, while safeguarding any immediate benefit needs. This will be adopted in Jobcentre Plus. This means that the mandatory personal adviser meeting will take place at a point at which the person will be in a better position to benefit from it.

  69.  In ONE the original target was for each new client to be booked in to see a personal adviser within three days of making a claim to benefit. This has proved to be unrealistic in some instances. ONE has now adopted a policy of working towards three days but with the option of going to the fourth day. This will reduce pressure on the front end of the process during particularly busy periods, and avoid lengthy waiting times and rushed meetings. Jobcentre Plus also has a standard of seeing clients within four days of making a claim.

How we have learnt from ONE in developing Jobcentre Plus

  70.  It is important to remember that the evaluation of ONE has not yet finished and that this will continue to feed into the development of Jobcentre Plus as we move into developing the regime beyond the pathfinders. That notwithstanding, there are several lessons from ONE already being factored into the Jobcentre Plus process.

  71.  It has become clear from ONE that more effective discussions can be held about work if benefits have been dealt with first. The Jobcentre Plus process has been designed around this principle. The introduction of a separate meeting with a financial assessor prior to the work-focussed interview should ensure that the personal adviser meeting can focus on tackling a client's barriers to work as well as reassuring them that their benefit claim is being looked after.

  72.  We have learnt that clients prefer the privacy and convenience of using the telephone, while a minority still prefer to have a face-to-face meeting. In Jobcentre Plus we have built the service around a call centre process, but anyone who does not want to use the telephone can see someone face to face.

  73.  Experience also shows that it is necessary to have some personal advisers with a specialisation. In Jobcentre Plus some of the advisers will have specialist knowledge in dealing with clients such as lone parents or people with an incapacity.

  74.  Unlike ONE, Jobcentre Plus will have a "three-year trigger regime" which will enable us to continue our contact with those of our clients who are hardest to reach, such as carers and people on Incapacity Benefit. Under ONE some of these clients never became eligible for an additional work-focussed interview under the "life event trigger regime" and so this additional three-year trigger will prevent many individuals simply returning to a life of benefit dependency after the initial work-focussed interview.

  75.  Both ONE and Jobcentre Plus want to encourage the maximum number of benefit clients to volunteer for additional interventions with their personal advisers—to become part of their personal adviser's "caseload". Caseloading is one of the least successful areas of the ONE process as often advisers' caseloads were too full of JSA clients to provide the necessary intensive help that clients to other benefits might need to find work, and staff did not have time to do the work. Both ONE and Jobcentre Plus are now attempting to target their caseloading resources on those more in need of help—economically inactive clients—and only providing additional support to JSA clients for whom it is clear that there is a specific barrier which can be overcome through additional interventions. Crucial to Jobcentre Plus' success in caseloading will be the development of an Action Plan for each client which will set out steps and time frames within which both client and adviser will work together to move the individual towards work.

  76.  In ONE the guidance for staff is mainly in hard copy and very lengthy. It is also at times not clear. In Jobcentre Plus guidance for advisers will be available electronically through the advisers' desk-top computers. This guidance can be regularly updated and makes it significantly easier to access information. Part of this guidance is focussed on the specific needs of individual client groups (including sick and disabled clients) which would have benefited staff in ONE areas who were not used to dealing with non-JSA clients and found the guidance did not always make clear what they should expect.

  77.  When the ONE pilots began, they were expected to operate within an environment where there was little incentive to move those further from the labour market into work. A lack of specific ONE placing targets may have encouraged advisers to focus on those who would move quickly into work and therefore allowed benefit issues to dominate for all other clients. The recent priority given to economically inactive clients in the target regime for the Employment Service has gone some way towards redressing this imbalance but more is needed. Jobcentre Plus needs to address this to establish proper balance between rights and responsibilities in the system. The target regime intended for Jobcentre Plus will take this into account.

  78.  The ONE pilots operated with a single management chain with a dual accountability regime on behalf of the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service. Jobcentre Plus pathfinders will have a single integrated management structure.


  Annex A Jobcentre Plus pathfinder locations

  Annex B Trigger regime for work-focussed interviews

  Annex C ONE pilot areas

  Annex D Summary of findings from the ONE evaluation publications

  Annex E Working Age—facts and figures

1   This excludes these with sensory disabilities (such as hearing/speaking problems). Back

2   Please note management actions have been taken to improve all of the areas identified in this list. For example, targets for deferral of clients for whom work-focussed meetings were inappropriate have now been removed. Back

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