LIST OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Economic situation and Government strategy
(a) We support the Government's determination
to continue its pursuit of active labour market policies, which
will be continued even if the labour market cools, but consider
that contingency plans should nevertheless be made in case of
an unexpected severe economic recession. In particular, we suggest
that plans for early implementation of additional Transitional
Employment projects would be advisable, specifically in areas
affected by lower growth (paragraph 25).
Regional features and variations
(b) We would expect the Government to
have appropriate policies to deal with large-scale redundancies
such as those experienced in the steel and car industries. In
particular, the current "Catch-22" situation which means
that the full range of Government assistance can only be given
once redundancy notices have been issued, should be urgently reviewed
(c) We welcome the acceptance by Government
that within the generally positive employment situation, there
are areas which are doing less well. We recommend that the employment
and skills frameworks produced by the LSC and the RDA should be
used to anticipate the skills and support required in these areas,
and allow greater funds for Jobcentre Plus to go to those areas
likely to experience, or experiencing, greater problems (paragraph
(d) We welcome the Government's commitment
to investigate the question of poor take-up in London of the Working
Families Tax Credit. As the new tax credit arrangements come into
effect, we recommend that detailed monitoring of take-up in London
continues, until this regional variation is fully explained and
eliminated (paragraph 34).
Contributions by other Government Departments
and co-ordination of policy
(e) While accepting that there is no easy
answer we would urge the Government to increase its efforts to
simplify the system by reducing the number of schemes, simplifying
conditions for qualification and devolving more discretion to
front-line DWP staff and to recipients of funding (paragraph 41).
(f) We urge the Departments responsible to
take account of the effect of transport on employment when considering
their policies, and recommend that the DWP reviews its programmes
to see whether individuals' transport needs are being adequately
addressed (paragraph 45).
(g) We do not believe that the number of childcare
places is an adequate measure of whether working parents can meet
their needs for childcare. A working parent may require pre-school
care for young children and care for older children before and
after school and during school holidays - up to three or four
places for one family. For children with special needs, there
may not be adequate provision in schools. We recommend that the
Government develops a new measure, related to working parents'
needs, and reviews its policies and funding commitments to meet
any gaps, drawing on the example of states such as Oregon and
Washington that have switched funding from welfare payments to
childcare support (paragraph 49).
(h) We are concerned that figures are not
yet available for the target that every lone parent in the 20
most disadvantaged areas should have a childcare place. We recommend
that this data should be collected and published within a year
(i) We recommend that childcare co-ordinators
in Jobcentre Plus offices be given two roles. First, as co-ordinators
of more active assistance to lone parents, designed to ensure
that every lone parent undergoing work-related training or seeking
employment succeeds in making suitable and reliable childcare
arrangements for their children. Second, in providing strategic
advice to the Early Years Partnerships on the specific childcare
needs of lone parents on benefit in the locality who want to work.
Childcare is an issue the Committee may well return to consider
in detail in the very near future (paragraph 51).
Re-design, streamlining and co-ordination of New
(j) We recommend that the emphasis of
the New Deal should shift from the younger JSA claimant population
to older JSA recipients, those facing acute barriers to work,
those on other benefits, and those who are economically inactive
(k) We believe that the Government should
prioritise its support for more disadvantaged jobseekers, particularly
those who have been in receipt of benefits that previously did
not qualify them to receive a full range of labour market services
(l) We recommend the StepUp approach should
be extended beyond the original pilot areas in order to accommodate
a wider group of clients (paragraph 64).
(m) We commend the Government's confidence
in the underlying strength of the labour market and its relationship
with employers prepared to engage in the programme (paragraph
(n) We recommend that the Department for Work
and Pensions actively explores routes to create flexibility and
encourage these innovative Intermediate Labour Market solutions
to unemployment and economic inactivity amongst the hardest to
place, like lone parents, longer term unemployed, people with
health problems or disability (paragraph 71).
(o) We believe it is essential that the 17%
gap between the employment rates of ethnic minorities and the
general working age population be narrowed. Whilst we commend
the active approach being taken by Jobcentre Plus, we recognise
that the pace of improvement until now has been relatively slow
and highly varied between different parts of the country. Recognising
that Jobcentre Plus is aiming to improve performance in 60 areas
of deprivation and low labour market participation by ethnic minorities,
we nevertheless do not believe that this will necessarily mean
better outcomes for ethnic minorities. We recommend that Jobcentre
Plus urgently reports on the effectiveness of its ethnic minority
outreach projects and identifies further ways in which its programmes
can be targeted to achieve parity faster. We particularly recommend
that Jobcentre Plus places a greater emphasis on self-employment
entry in conjunction with black and minority ethnic business development
agencies (paragraph 73).
(p) We also believe that additional support
should be made available by Jobcentre Plus to help further groups
of working-age claimants to access specialist services. These
need to address disadvantages such as a history of offending or
anti-social behaviour; alcohol dependency; patterns of homelessness
or insecure housing tenure; and domestic or family stress. Much
of the best expertise in these areas currently lies outside Jobcentre
Plus. We believe that Jobcentre Plus should concentrate on its
own strengths and rely on expert, independent, specialist organisations
in the voluntary and private sectors for the delivery of the many
services needed by these clients who face significant barriers
to work. From the evidence of Action Teams, Employment Zones and
our discussions with providers in the UK and USA, we conclude
that services to these clients - and their ultimate entry into
the labour market - can be significantly improved by funding private
and voluntary sector providers to undertake these tasks. We believe
that the contractual architecture inherited by Jobcentre Plus
needs to be overhauled so that these private and voluntary organisations
are not simply contracted to deliver small bespoke "add-on"
packages of help. Instead, their central role should be recognised,
they should be given flexible funding and a broad remit of devolved
service responsibility, matched by a transparent framework of
accountability (paragraph 75).
(q) We recommend that the current Tailored
Pathway pilot schemes should form part of a national roll-out
(r) Training in the New Deal needs to be delivered
with flexibility to ensure that it is sufficiently work-focussed,
brings participants up to employer standards and is relevant to
local labour market needs. Government funded training should not
substitute for skills development that an employer is already
prepared to pay for and which is specific to that firm. Instead,
Jobcentre Plus should aim to develop more portable skills ("soft
skills") that are specific to the individual and will improve
their progression prospects (paragraph 82).
(s) We recommend that the Government consider
removing the different options and pilot programmes within the
different New Deals, and instead allow advisers much more flexibility
to design support around the needs of the individual. In doing
so, they should draw on the more devolved models evident in our
evidence on Employment Zones, Action Teams and the US (paragraph
Engagement in the 'WorkFirst' agenda: the balance
between opportunity and obligation
(t) We reject the options of time limits
on benefits and requiring lone parents to work as a condition
of receiving benefit (paragraph 86).
(u) We have concluded that the Government
is right in steering away from requiring mandatory participation
in New Deal programmes for groups receiving 'inactive' benefits
(v) We accept the need for attendance by certain
lone parents at annual work-focussed meetings to be mandatory,
essentially as a recognition that Jobcentre Plus staff often have
to overcome a degree of fear and suspicion regarding the work
agenda, which can make claimants unwilling to attend voluntarily
(w) We recommend that almost everyone receiving
benefit on the grounds of incapacity for work should be provided
with a face-to-face work-focussed interview at least once a year,
when barriers to work could be explored and strategies discussed
to overcome them. Recipients would be required to attend these
annual interviews although some (such as those with severe disabilities
for whom attendance should remain voluntary) would be subject
to waiver or deferral where the interview would not be of assistance
to, or appropriate for, an individual. We recommend that such
interviews should be confidential, and independent of the Jobcentre
Plus benefits administration system so that a client's willingness
to consider work should not be used to trigger a fresh personal
capability assessment which might lead to the withdrawal of benefit
(x) Urgent and sympathetic action is needed
by the Government to address worklessness among sick and disabled
people, too many of whom feel "written off" by society
despite their desire to work. Much more needs to be done both
pro-actively to engage with people on incapacity benefits concerning
the possibility of working and to offer them the support and training
necessary to get into the labour market (paragraph 95).
(y) Drawing on our experience from the Netherlands
and the US, we recommend re-designing the New Deals around three
- Work for those who can enter the
job market quickly;
- Soft skills, work placements, job-specific
training and active job search for others; and
- Intensive personal help ("re-habilitation"
in the jargon) for those with the most significant barriers -
e.g. drug abuse, ex-offenders (paragraph
(z) We recommend that the principles above
should become the principles guiding the New Deal overall, with
advisers given the budgets and powers to apply those principles
according to the circumstances of their clients and their locality.
National benefit entitlement rules would continue to apply and
Jobcentre Plus offices would be held accountable through monitoring
outcomes rather than as now through centrally set options and
programme rules (paragraph 97).
Job retention progression and sustainability
(aa) We recommend that the DWP move as
swiftly as possible to the collection of data allowing the progress
of former New Deal participants in retaining employment over 12
months, and in increasing their wage levels, to be monitored (paragraph
(bb) We recommend that 'soft skills' training
be an integral part of New Deal programmes aimed at harder to
help groups and that the skills training in New Deal programmes
be reviewed to see whether they provide these soft skills and
workplace ethos (paragraph 107).
(cc) We recommend that Jobcentre Plus should
develop partnerships with voluntary, not-for-profit and private
organisations to provide re-habilitation services for this category
of clients. This will involve one to one support, based on outreach
work, to address the individual's particular needs (paragraph
(dd) We recommend that Jobcentre Plus provides
individual advisers for clients and develops its aftercare services
for New Deal participants, so that an ongoing relationship is
maintained with Personal Advisers or with an independent agency
under contract to Jobcentre Plus (paragraph 111).
(ee) We recommend that Jobcentre Plus builds
up its relations with employers taking New Deal recruits, encouraging
them to develop induction programmes, and the use of mentors,
and to give feedback and support to assist entry level employees
to progress (paragraph 115).
(ff) We repeat our recommendation, made in
our report on lessons from the ONE pilots, that protocols be developed
to assist Personal Advisers to explore, in a more systematic and
consistent manner, a new claimant's work readiness and the barriers
they face (paragraph 118).
(gg) We are pleased that the DWP has taken
on board the recommendations made in our report on the ONE pilots
and is considering possible measures of 'distance travelled' as
part of the development work for the 2003-04 Performance and Resources
Agreement (paragraph 119).
(hh) We believe that co-financing is a
useful model and recommend that Jobcentre Plus programme funds
could be placed with LSPs to be match-funded with other resources
from local and central government. This would create real strategic
partnerships equipped with a wide range of programme funds and
would enable local decision takers to reduce duplication, fill
gaps and achieve "double benefits" to both individuals
and communities. We recommend that a pilot area be identified
to test and evaluate this approach (paragraph 124).
The role of Jobcentre Plus
(ii) We fully support the Government's
aim actively to engage business and to design interventions that
meet the requirements of employers in both private and public
sectors. We endorse the sector specific approach adopted by the
employerled "Ambitions" programme and propose
that further sectors are actively encouraged, particularly where
this can be in parallel with developing Sector Skills Councils.
We specifically recommend that all training components of the
New Deal, other than soft and Basic Skills, are made job-specific
and matched to individual employers' actual recruitment needs
(jj) We recommend that Jobcentre Plus resources
its Local Account Managers, particularly in big city conurbations,
to work in small sector-specific teams so that expertise
and contacts can be built up and employer and business needs properly
investigated and understood (paragraph 132).
(kk) We recommend that specific funds be allocated
to training Jobcentre Plus staff in the necessary skills to enable
them to understand the needs of employers at local level. We also
recommend that consideration be given to greater recruitment of
staff from the commercial sector to perform the Account Manager
function within Jobcentre Plus (paragraph 133).
(ll) We are concerned at the apparent lack
of detailed knowledge of, and support for, Business Links and
recommend that the Departments concerned take urgent steps to
promote all the services and assistance available to those contemplating
self-employment or starting a small business, and to increase
the relationship between Jobcentre Plus and Business Links from
awareness to active involvement on a continuous basis (paragraph
(mm) We recommend that a range of specific
sector initiatives be launched - using the template of "Ambition"
to help prepare employers in the public sector for the recruitment
of Jobcentre Plus clients and to tailor packages of job preparation
for the needs of these public sector employers (paragraph 141).
(nn) We endorse the Prime Minister's favourable
assessment of the value of Employment Zones (paragraph 151).
(oo) We recommend that the proven model of
Employment Zones should be extended into a further 15 areas of
labour market need within the term of this Parliament. We
also recommend that the Government promotes more schemes similar
to the Seattle Jobs Initiative, the Oregon "Steps to Success"
programme and the "Transitional Work Corporation" in
Philadelphia (paragraph 154).
(pp) We recommend that a review of innovation
financing is undertaken in order to identify ways in which it
can stimulate entrepreneurial activity and promote a stronger
culture of risk-taking amongst Jobcentre Plus managers and contracted
suppliers. The key tests should be focussed on agreed predicted
and actual outcomes (paragraph 155).
(qq) We recommend a more systematic use and
replication of the evaluations, pilots and best practice or innovation
within the New Deal's design framework (paragraph 157).
(rr) We understand that, following the Social
Investment Task Force report, the DTI is sponsoring a range of
initiatives that replicate some of the Reinvestment Fund's characteristics.
We have not found any evidence that these have been co-ordinated
with Jobcentre Plus programmes and strongly urge closer integration