Select Committee on Social Security Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



Executive Summary

1. The Employers' Forum on Disability has over 310 major UK employer members, employing 20 per cent of the UK workforce. It is a unique employer organisation committed to making it easier for employers to recruit, retain and develop disabled people and others significantly disadvantaged in the labour market.

2. The Forum welcomes any initiative which simplifies a complex, largely dysfunctional system and which as a consequence improves the efficiency of the market for disadvantaged job seekers.

3. The Forum considers that the Single Gateway needs to be a "gateway to work" and not just a "gateway to service providers".

4. For a gateway to work to be successful, employer requirements and expectations need to be built into the system.

5. Evidence would suggest that success requires the earliest possible direct involvement of employers expediting journey throughout the process, from identifying job requirements to attracting job seekers to the Gateway to recruitment and successful induction.

6. Gateway/brokers must be absolutely clear as to the needs and expectations of the employer and highly skilled in helping to minimize the risks and costs employers often associated with having disadvantaged job seekers. Gateways must also be expert in answering the needs and expectations of the job seeker and helping to minimize the risks they associate with moving off benefit.

7. Large national employers have different requirements from small and medium sized employers. Large employers require excellent consistent delivery across the UK. Small employers do not have the capacity or inclination to deal with large bureaucracies. The Gateway needs to meet differing employer needs.

8. The Gateway needs to be measured against employer needs and satisfaction as well as those of job seekers.

9. In conjunction with Work Structuring Ltd., the Forum has developed a model for evaluating employment market initiatives. The job seeker's and employer's journeys are interrelated. The role of the intermediary or gatekeeper is an essential "brokering role". It is not an "administrative" or "social worker" role.

10. Employers, job seekers and the gateway brokers need to be committed ("signed on"), prepared and fully engaged before real system improvement will be achieved.

11. Journeys involve risks for job seekers and employers. Gateway managers need to be mindful of those risks and empowered to address them as for as possible.


1. The Employers' Forum on Disability is concerned with the employment and training of people with disabilities. It has over 300 employer members drawn from public and private sectors including manufacturing, services and retail. Funded by members, it improves the job prospects of disabled people by making it easier for employers to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees. It works closely with member organisations through breakfast briefings, member support lines, publications and seminars. It has led system wide thinking through a series of Windsor Consultations involving civil servants, employers, politicians, trades unions and service providers. The Forum, as the authoritative employers' voice on disability, supported the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act and has been supportive from the outset of a Commission. Forum members employ around 20 per cent of the UK workforce. The Forum is not a service provider; it is not a recruitment or training agency for people with disabilities seeking work.

2. The system for supporting disabled or indeed any disadvantaged job seeker is complex. Appendix 1 is an analysis of some of the relevant government and non-government agencies. This system is constantly changing, as local and national government organisation and regulations change. Any attempt to simplify the system is welcomed by the Forum.

3. The objective of the "Single Gateway" is to ensure that those people who cannot work have security and prompt payment of benefits is made. For those people who can work, the Gateway is intended to be a gateway to the employment market. There is a danger that it could become a gateway to service provision and not necessarily to work. If its focus is service provision, including training, education, childcare, healthcare and housing, as described on p 8 of "A New Contract for Welfare—The Gateway to Work", and not focused upon employer requirements in the marketplace, it could add to rather than reduce the complexity.

4. If it is to be a Gateway to Work, it is clear that employer requirements need to be built in. "The Gateway To Work" is silent about the role or involvement of employers in the process. The assumption is that existing brokering services through the Employment Service or NGOs are efficient and therefore employer driven. We are not entirely convinced that this is the case on a consistent basis across the United Kingdom. We consider that where there is early employer involvement and efficient market brokering, successful outcomes can be achieved.

5. There is increasing evidence that successful brokers of disadvantaged people to gain access to, keep and advance in jobs and careers are those with the capacity to meet the needs of both employers and job seekers. This conclusion of the Rockefeller Foundation Report: "Business Participation in Welfare to Work: Lessons from the United States" is reinforced by New Deal Projects the Forum has been involved with in both the North West and South West of England. A gateway driven by employer requirement focuses on the skills and competencies required by the employer, who with the support of effective intermediaries match requirements with the prospective job seekers. The provision of education, training and other support activities becomes part of a work focused action plan. Under such arrangements, the journey through the gateway can be relatively short and the involvement of the intermediary may continue into employment. It is uncertain whether the Single Gateway provides this brokerage role.

6. Employers largely do not want to get involved in the internal organisation of the service providers, such as the Employment Service. They need to be assured of standards of performance. Employers do not expect to be involved designing services except where they are an integral part of the process. Their involvement is in the specification of their requirements. Relationship management is also important. The recent innovation by the Employment Service to have a national account team (The Large Organisation Unit) has been welcomed. It has helped to strengthen relationships with employers. The Single Gateway proposals appear to give little indication as to how employer relationships will be managed within the Gateway.

7. Membership of the Forum is predominantly large employers with national coverage. Many of our members are international companies. Over the past decade recruitment strategies have changed radically. They seek long term partnering relationships with a small number of service providers who meet their needs in a consistently excellent manner across the company. Contracts of employment vary.

8. It is also clear that a large percentage of "new jobs" are created in the SME (small and medium enterprise) sector. If service providers supply people with the minimum of time and "bureaucracy", this sector responds positively. Our evidence suggests that this sector is positively inclined to the recruitment of "disadvantaged job seekers" who are suitably skilled and motivated. All too often services treat employers as the target or problem. Effective services—and Gateways—must value the employer (as well as the jobseeker) as "customer". Meeting employer needs as "customers" is essential if their potential as partners is to be realised (Appendix 2).

9. The Forum considers that measurement of success in employer terms is essential. Too often the output measures are solely in terms of people achieving work. Whilst this is important, if the Gateway has been created to provide a service to employers, success needs to measured against their expectations. We have been involved in the last 12 months with innovative projects, which have begun with the employer rather than the job seeker requirement. In one, a single large employer made a commitment to recruit a number of disadvantaged job seekers—predominantly disabled or carers. In another project, a service provider went to employers and based upon their need to retain people with disabilities "at risk", designed a programme to support those employers. In both cases success measures have been designed around the employer objectives. More importantly measurement has included process measures as well as output measures. The processes did not only include how the service providers delivered their service but also how the employers' recruitment and retention processes were designed and could be improved. It is not clear the extent to which the Single Gateway will be measured against employer needs and expectations.

10. We have developed, in consultation, a model for evaluating employment market initiatives. This is shown at Appendix 3. This shows the interrelationship of the job seekers and prospective employer "journeys". The intermediary or gatekeeper is essentially a broker and will have sophisticated skills. They need to understand the world of work in their marketplace intimately. They need to have established relationships with local employers and achieved their trust and confidence. They need to understand the job seekers requirements in terms that are relevant to the marketplace. They need to be able to facilitate adjustments to employment. The role is neither administrative nor one of "social worker" to the disadvantaged job seeker. It is one of an effective broker. There are currently a number of "pilots" being carried out into "Personal Advisor Services" for Lone Parents and People with Disabilities. There will be benefit from drawing together lessons from these pilots and the Single Gateway Pilots to finally nail down the "brokering role" and the consequent skills and competencies required to fulfil this crucial function. Note that at the moment no training or accreditation is available to such brokers.

11. Going through the gateway for both employers and prospective job seekers has its potential rewards and risks. The Single Gateway pilots focus upon the potential rewards for the job seeker of moving out of benefit into self-reliance. Over the last 12 months, Secretaries of State have spoken about the 1 million disabled benefit claimants who can work, want to work and have a right to work. The Single Gateway may cast light on the underlying reasons as to why this group of people does not actively participate in the market. Our evidence suggests that fear of losing important benefits may be at the heart of this problem. Confidence that the process will result in real sustainable employment clearly will have a strong "pull through" effect. Government may also need to look further at removing links between benefit payment and employment market participation and provision of cash flow bridges between benefit and employment.

12. In summary, the Forum welcomes any initiative which will result in the improvement in the efficiency of the market for disadvantaged people, a large percentage of whom are disabled. We have concerns that the Single Gateway could become just a Gateway to Services rather than jobs. For it to be a Gateway to Jobs, the process needs to attractive to both employers and job seekers. If that is achieved the pilots will play a significant contribution to the improvement of the system.

Annex 1 The Disability Employment System*

Annex 2 The Employers' Journey*

Annex 3 Preconditions of Success*

Annex 4 Background Information on Employers' Forum on Disability*

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Prepared 27 July 1999