Select Committee on Social Security Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Rathbone CI


1. Rathbone CI is a leading voluntary sector provider of education, training and employment services to people with special needs. The Annex* to this submission provides additional detail about the organisation.

Widening Opportunity Through The Single Work-focused Gateway

2. The Single Work-focused Gateway (SWFG) has the potential, if used properly, to contribute to the social inclusiveness agenda. For people wishing to work there is no form of exclusion greater than being unable to obtain a job. SWFG should offer positive help to people to move from benefits into jobs.

3. The New Deals for recipients of Jobseekers' Allowance are showing that, with appropriate help, people can achieve their personal job goals. Experience to date suggests that measures work best where there has been sufficient investment in flexible provision to respond to individual employment related needs. Thus New Deal for 18-24s with its Gateway and Option structure appears more effective than the standard provision for over-25s. The FTET option of the New Deal has been more successful than anticipated. We would like to see the availability of this option extended to all SWFG clients.

4. SWFG will extend the personal adviser role to recipients of benefits other than JSA initially on a voluntary basis but moving to a mandatory basis, subject to legislation, subsequently. This will generate a more diverse client group than is currently covered by the New Deals for Lone Parents and Disabled People where participation is voluntary.

5. If SWFG is to be seen as a "hand-up" rather than a "hand-out" it will need to learn from the experience of New Deal and earlier programmes. In particular it will need provision in place to support the personal adviser role irrespective of whether the personal adviser works for the Employment Service or another organisation.

6. A significant proportion of both JSA and non-JSA clients is likely to have special needs in employment terms at the point of making a claim. We welcome the early eligibility criteria under New Deal for Young People for those who are vulnerable including those with special needs. If it is to be effective, SWFG will need similarly to identify barriers to employment early and have provision in place to address those barriers.

7. The provision should include careers assessment and guidance, basic skills assessment and provision, motivational help as needed and help with job search. In essence we need to give access to New Deal Gateway type provision, albeit on a voluntary basis for recipients of benefits other than JSA. (Our understanding is that a) early entrants from JSA to New Deal commit themselves in full to the requirements including sanctions of New Deal and that b) the requirements placed on non-JSA clients in SWFG will be more modest).

8. If we neglect to provide client centered help at the outset of SWFG we will risk raising job related hopes through personal adviser intervention that prove impossible to achieve thereafter. Such an outcome would raise considerable doubts amongst the client group about the policy intent of SWFG.

9. Some non-JSA clients are unlikely to overcome all obstacles to employment through Gateway style provision alone. This raises the issue of whether access to New Deal style Options should be available on request. There are strong arguments for doing so. Volunteers are likely to be highly committed to any chosen Option and success rates in terms of job starts—the best approach to combating welfare dependency—should be correspondingly high. If training options are linked to lifelong learning provision through Individual Learning Accounts, clients will commit their own money (in part) to training and thus be a greater "stakeholder" in their own job success.


10. We welcome the opportunity provided by SWFG to develop a New Deal style portfolio of help for a wider client group. Our strong message is that we need to invest in the support for a potentially vulnerable client group if we are to maximise the proportion of clients we assist off welfare and into work. The infrastructure is already in place under New Deal. What is needed is a decision on access and the supporting funding to make access a reality for those who need it.

Carol Toms

Policy Officer

28 April 1999

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