Targets and performance measures
77. From the preceding paragraphs, it must already
be apparent that, within ONE, targets exerted a powerful influence
on the behaviour of staff. On a day-to-day level, it was the targets
to which staff worked which determined their priorities - regardless
of the overall ONE vision. At the start of ONE, there were no
new targets set for the pilots; instead, it was intended that
staff would operate within the Agencies' existing targets. The
one exception was a commitment that initial Personal Adviser meetings
would take place within three days of the start-up meeting.
The absence of new targets meant that employment targets were
primarily focused around existing job placement targets for JSA
clients, with the inevitable result that this was where the energies
of staff were concentrated. As the DWP noted, "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."
Inherited Benefits Agency targets stressed the importance of speed
of processing and accuracy (as measured by the quality of information
and evidence collected to support a benefit claim). At times of
heavy pressure, it is clear that the work-focus got lost as staff
concentrated on meeting basic process targets, such as the requirement
to have a Personal Adviser meeting within three days.
78. In an effort to devise targets which better supported
ONE's objectives, key performance indicators were devised which
established minimum performance measures, as a baseline for improvement.
These were introduced from October 2000. The minimum standards
now cover the number of job 'entries' achieved, with JSA and non-JSA
placements measured separately; job sustainability; call backs
within 24 hours (for Call Centres); booking Personal Adviser meetings;
and the quality and completeness of evidence gathering.
79. From April 2001, the minimum standard for job
entries in the Basic Model and Call Centre Pilots combined was
3,651 JSA job entries, and 397 non-JSA job entries.
In the Private Sector pilots, the job entry targets were 2,035
JSA targets and 277 non-JSA targets.
The minimum standard for job sustainability was that 75 per cent
of those placed in work should not return to ONE to claim the
same or another benefit within a continuous period of 13 weeks
of taking up employment.
On call backs, the minimum standard set for the Call Centre pilots
was that 90 per cent of clients were to be called back within
24 hours. For
booking clients to attend initial Personal Adviser meetings, it
was recognised that the original three day target had "perversely
driven speed rather than the quality of the interview, in its
length and focus on work issues."
Therefore from April 2001, the minimum standard set was that 80
per cent of clients should have their first Personal Adviser meeting
within four days.
For evidence gathering, a 90 per cent minimum target has been
set for the quality and completeness of information and evidence
collected to support a benefit claim.
80. The policy makers overseeing ONE have clearly
been alert to the need to readjust the targets set to better accord
with the aims of ONE. Nevertheless, there appear to be tensions
between the work focus and the process targets to do with benefits
delivery, which have resulted in the latter achieving a greater
emphasis - particularly in relation to non-JSA clients. The private
sector partners argued that the need to concentrate on meeting
"Agency process focused targets" (to which greater 'weighting'
was given under the funding regime governing the contracts) detracted
from their ability to deliver a more "client-focused"
approach related to helping people move into work.
Deloitte lobbied hard, but unsuccessfully, to be allowed to experiment
with the - at that time - three day interview target. They argued
that where a client was job-ready, there was a substantial case
to be gained by submitting the person for interviews immediately
- rather than spending the majority of the first contact meeting
concentrating on benefit claim completion. Their proposal was
that they be allowed to experiment with giving advisers more time
with job-ready clients at the point of first contact, so that
they could be placed straight into work without the need to claim
benefit. Their conclusion was that: "the current performance
regime and operation has output measures at its heart - how many
days pass before the individual receives a one hour meeting after
their initial start-up meeting. This militates against the work
placement and labour market activity targets, which are outcome
81. The private sector companies' criticisms are
matched by those of John Kelleher, who commented more widely on
the performance measures used within the ONE pilots to judge success:
"It was the concentration on process that caused the problem...we
needed more concentration on the design of the process and not
to get lost in the epiphenomenon of the process - did you see
the person, did they have their first Personal Adviser meeting
after three or four days? That is not going to determine whether
people get jobs or not. There is the problem of falling back into
all sorts of bureaucratic default about saying that the system
works, that the queues were not too long, we saw them in a certain
time, we saw everyone after 20 weeks, which is nice and good as
far as it goes but it is only quite tenuously associated with
Meeting processing targets must not overshadow the major policy
re-orientation which ONE represents: to deliver a work-focused
service tailored to clients' needs. But it is not an 'either/or'
situation. We are concerned to see that benefit claims are determined
swiftly and efficiently. The answer lies in ensuring that there
are sufficient resources to carry out both activities - assisting
clients to work and processing claims - without the two coming
82. The current work-related targets are heavily
biased towards achieving job placements for JSA clients. The job
placement targets for non-JSA clients are extremely modest, despite
the fact that in most of the pilots at least a third of all ONE
clients are receiving benefits other than JSA. The danger is that,
as a result of the target regime, Advisers are encouraged to devote
their energies only to the most job-ready of non-JSA clients whilst
others, who need greater support to successfully enter the labour
market are 'parked' on benefit. There are at present no performance
measures which give staff recognition for the work they do in
helping clients move closer to the labour market, for example,
by encouraging a client to do voluntary work, undertake a training
course or improve personal skills and attitudes (for example,
increased levels of motivation or levels of confidence). As a
result, it is unsurprising that such activities are not awarded
adequate time or attention.
83. The final work-related target regime for Jobcentre
Plus has yet to be announced. But draft proposals suggest that
the focus will again be on job entries, but weighted through a
new system of point scores intended to focus effort on priority
groups and areas.
Under this new system job entries for lone parents, sick or disabled
clients, and others on non-JSA benefits would be weighted higher,
through more points, than JSA clients. In turn, job entries achieved
for longer unemployed JSA clients and those eligible for JSA New
Deals would rank higher than entries for short-term JSA clients.
Reflecting the current PSA targets, extra points would be given
for job entries obtained in the 30 local authority districts with
the poorest initial labour market position; and in an additional
30 local authority districts with a high proportion of disadvantaged
ethnic minority clients.
84. We are concerned that the proposed job-entry
targets for Jobcentre Plus give equal weighting to all non-JSA
clients. Our inquiry has shown that staff have the most difficulties
in dealing with Incapacity Benefit claimants. Moreover, research
conducted as part of the ONE evaluation on the attitudes of employers
towards non-JSA clients, found that employers were less willing
to take on sick or disabled clients than lone parents, and were
particularly resistant to employing people with mental health
problems. If all
non-JSA clients are treated in the same manner, lone parents are
likely to get priority because they are easier to place.
We recommend that, within Jobcentre Plus, job-entry targets
are set for non-JSA clients which reflect the greater or lesser
difficulties which the different client groups face in entering
the labour market, and which will reflect the varying efforts
which will be needed by Advisers to assist them.
85. We are concerned that the proposed target regime
for Jobcentre Plus will not be enough to incentivise staff to
do the detailed work with less job-ready clients which will be
necessary if the goals of Jobcentre Plus are to be fulfilled.
Targets are needed which reward staff for moving clients closer
to the labour market, otherwise they will concentrate their energies
and resources on those most immediately job-ready. We therefore
recommend that the Government seeks to develop and pilot a new
range of targets aimed at measuring the 'distance travelled' towards
labour market participation by clients who are not immediately
job-ready. These targets would aim to measure improvements in
employability achieved by the intervention of Jobcentre Plus,
either alone or through referral to external agencies. Key measures
might be improvements in work skills, attitudinal skills, personal
skills, and practical skills - as steps along the way to more
tangible targets such as qualifications and jobs. One suggestion
might be to use the next round of New Deal Innovation Fund bids
to test more mixed targets for these client groups, including
both 'hard' and 'soft' targets, with a view to evaluating the
lessons for mainstream Jobcentre Plus delivery.