Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240-250)|
WEDNESDAY 16 JANUARY 2002
240. Would you, as a result of the pieces of
research you have done about the difference and the objectives
that are set out for Jobcentre Plus as opposed to the ONE pilot,
which could be argued to be less challenging, have any views about
that? Were you concerned about that in any aspects of the work
that you did?
(Ms Davies) I am actually currently working on a Jobcentre
Plus evaluation, so I should have a view of this. Given my concentration
on the ONE evaluation preparing for today it has completely gone
out of my head, so I will need to come back to you at a later
241. That is fine. Is it a surprise to you that
Jobcentre Plus is being proceeded with before the proper evaluation
of the ONE pilot has been completed?
(Professor Marsh) Chairman, as you know better than
anybody, a very big political decision has been made. The business
of giving people benefits and the business of advising and assisting
and case managing them into jobs has been merged. Departments
have been merged, the instruments of doing this have been merged,
it therefore follows these two services will be delivered at the
same point. We as evaluators would have had to have found some
catastrophically negative effect to put the brakes on that movement,
and we did not.
Chairman: You are beginning to sound suspiciously
like a politician.
242. A very quick question. To vastly over-summarise
your evidence, you are both saying that the claimants found that
the experience was better but the difference in outcomes was not
as great as one might have hoped for, but there were some changes
in outcomes. Just to put that in context, is that something that
one would expect in a pilot because of training and set up problemsdo
they struggle normally to match the previous model, or is that
something that we should find disappointing in terms of outcomes?
(Professor Marsh) I think it is encouraging they both
point in the right direction. There was some evidence of an initial
impetus to job-getting amongst some groups, it was still a relatively
brief intervention we were asked to concentrate on at the ONE
interview. Remember also, it is not as though there was nothing
going on elsewhere, there were no big pilots going on in controlled
areas but over the last five years, at the risk of sounding like
a politician, an awful lot has been done to boost case management,
increase work incentives, advertise work benefits, which the controlled
clients were exposed to and were responding to. The work deserves
careful study and broadly it is pointing in the right direction.
243. Thank you.
(Ms Davies) I think the one thing that we would like
to say is that although the picture we presented here is a little
bit of this and a little bit of that, on either side, if you like,
there is considerably more detail we have not had the opportunity
to go into. It is now not the time or the place. What I think
some of our research does show, in some cases, is how the services
are delivered, aspects of the services that work wellwhere
personal advisers establish relationships with their clients,
where clients feel they can go back or should go back to them.
There is definite direction on how that should be managed. There
are clear impacts on clients' behaviour and their attitudes towards
work: it is just unfortunate that that has not translated into
bigger numbers. The quality of what is being delivered is quite
important and we have some very solid evidence on what appears
244. We have heard a lot of evidence so far
from everyone involved in the project that a lot of the emphasis
has been on process rather than outcome. Effectively the findings
that you are portraying today suggest we have a very positive
response in terms of process and not very positive in respect
of outcomes. This is effectively what you would expect, bearing
in mind what we have been told about the way the whole of the
monitoring was more geared to the process than the outcome. If
we see that lesson has been learned, and that Jobcentre Plus is
now going to start to focus on outcome, is that going to effectively
deal with that issue?
(Professor Marsh) Yes, I think so. If I had anything
to say about that, certainly my experience of looking at some
of the models of delivery that have influenced, not determined,
but have influenced this design, those obtaining in Wisconsin
and California and elsewhere in the United States, the engagement
with local employers is the key. They are on first name terms
with every employer within miles, I think that is probably one
of the ways forward if I were to make a recommendation, but it
is not my habit to do so.
245. Let me tempt you. What are the two or three
things you would want to see enshrined for the new system from
the pilots? What would be the two or three important things you
picked up from the work you have done that you would build into,
enhance and protect in the new system that is getting rolled out
for this year?
(Ms Johnson) This is something that we anticipated
we might get asked.
246. We are getting too predictable as a Committee
or I am getting too predictable as a Chairman.
(Ms Johnson) Our thoughts very much revolve round
the role of the personal adviser in delivering the process to
secure the outcomes. Our thoughts were that personal advisers
need further training, more training to deliver that which they
are charged with delivering. Connected with that, there is the
imperative for personal advisers to have their own knowledge and
information about benefits and the range of advice and support
that they can offer to individuals. In addition to that, knowledge
of and access to information about the wider range of support
and very specialist sorts of benefits and referral agencies which
might apply to a smaller number of cases, but which you could
not possibly expect each individual personal adviser to hold themselves.
Very clear to us, although we were not evaluating the delivery
of ONE per se, was that personal advisers need to have
time in each individual session but also in having a series of
sessions to work with clients over a period of time to, first
of all, challenge their attitudes towards work which will then
translate into changes in behaviour and eventually the outcome,
which we hope will be sustainable. Those are our thoughts.
247. That is helpful.
(Professor Marsh) There is a significant opportunity
with respect to lone parents to make getting maintenance payments
part of the welfare-to-work strategy, because they are now discounted
entirely against working families tax credit payments, and the
great majority of lone parents who work claim WFTC. If they can
receive even modest amounts of child support payments at the same
time, they will have a standard of living in work which will compare
reasonably favourably with a single earning couple. That would
be a great advance. I think that is a forum for changing the culture
about supporting lone parents in work from public resources, WFTC,
to private resources from the non-resident parent, and that is
clearly a lead to follow up on. For sick and disabled people,
I am anxious about the intervention of the appeals system. I have
studied people leaving incapacity benefit and that muddied everything.
Of course it is supposed to be there, of course it is necessary
to be there, but I think somehow personal advisers are going to
have to be engaged differently with people who on one hand are
looking for a job and on the other are appealing against failing
the personal capacity test, and that is something that is going
to have to be sorted out.
248. So when we meet the Minister in a week's
time, what bit of advice have you got for him?
(Professor Marsh) I would agree with my colleagues
that the work-focussed training that advisers are going to have
to have is very considerable. I would say put huge resources into
training, try to retain people in these jobs for a long time,
make them specialists, make them masters of several fields, as
they have to be, and find ways of having a working relationship
with all of the local employers, and put them into teams. I have
the impression, and I may be corrected by other people giving
evidence, that they work too much on their own. In California
the teams compete with one another.
249. Vicky, Clare? Questions to the Minister
(Ms Davies) I would support what Alan has said. There
is a big issue about personal advisers' ability to discuss work
in a meaningful way with non-JSA clients, with lone parents, carers
and others, the whole gamut of clients who are not actively seeking
work. I think that is critical because, as we have said today,
a lot of the interviews were not particularly detailed although
work-focussed in content, and that really has to be the main focus.
Chairman: And lots of research to do now and
in the future no doubt. We will put in a word to the Department
for you! Seriously, thank you very much, it has been a very instructive
and interesting session. We are very grateful for the work you
have done, it has informed the work of the Committee enormously.
Thank you very much.
1 Please refer to the supplementary memorandum submitted
by ECOTEC which follows this oral evidence, page Ev 96. Back