Select Committee on Social Security Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary joint memorandum submitted by DfEE, DSS, ES and BX Officials (SG 37)

INFORMATION NOT PROVIDED IN THE FIRST MEMORANDUM

1.  FURTHER STATISTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PILOT AND CONTROL AREAS: SIZE, LOCAL ECONOMIC AND LABOUR MARKET CHARACTERISTICS, RATES OF VACANCIES, INCOME LEVELS, EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT, ETHNIC MAKE-UP, NATIONAL FIGURES WHERE APPROPRIATE FOR THE PURPOSES OF COMPARISON AND AN ESTIMATE OF THE PERSONAL ADVISER CASELOADS

  Such data as is available on population, age, gender, ethnicity and vacancies has been provided below. Information on incomes and educational attainment of clients in the pilot and control areas is not available from existing sources. This will be collected for the three main client groups in the survey of claimants.

Working Age Population by age and group

Basic Model Age Break Down
Action Areas18-24 25-4950-59
Essex SETotal74,500 305,000136,500
Per cent15 5926
WarwickshireTotal62,000 371,500146,000
Per cent11 6425
Clyde Coast & Renfrew
Lea RodingTotal58,500 326,000101,500
Per cent12 6721
Control Areas
SurreyTotal170,500 944,000348,000
Per cent12 6524
WiltshireTotal42,000 229,000100,000
Per cent11 6227
TaysideTotal32,500 190,50069,000
Per cent11 6524
Greater Manchester
Total 58,000316,00096,500
PenninePer cent12 6721
Variant Total497,500 2,682,000997,000

Private/Vol Sector Age Break Down
Action Areas18-24 25-4950-59
SuffolkTotal47,500 282,000126,000
Per cent10 6228
North NottinghamshireTotal 39,500200,50086,000
Per cent12 6226
LeedsTotal58,500 306,000112,500
Per cent12 6424
North CheshireTotal 48,000229,00080,000
Per cent13 6422
Control Areas
DorsetTotal46,500 239,00097,500
Per cent12 6325
North StaffordshireTotal 48,000186,00075,000
Per cent16 6024
NorthumbriaTotal49,500 200,00079,500
Per cent15 6124
Wolverhampton
Variant Total337,000 1,642,500656,000

Call CentreAge Break Down
Action Areas18-24 25-4950-59
SomersetTotal57,500 264,500142,000
Per cent12 5731
BuckinghamshireTotal 70,000424,500176,000
Per cent11 6326
Gwent BordersTotal69,500 400,500158,000
Per cent11 6425
Calderdale and KirkleesTotal 27,500215,50068,500
Per cent9 6922
Control Areas
West SussexTotal25,500 201,00074,000
Per cent8 6725
CambridgeshireTotal 61,500262,500102,500
Per cent15 6224
NorwichTotal49,000 187,00079,000
Per cent16 5925
HullTotal41,000 182,50075,500
Per cent14 6125
Variant Total401,500 2,138,000875,000


WORKING AGE POPULATION BY ETHNICITY
Action Areas
Basic Model
per cent
non white
Control Areas
Basic Model
per cent
non white
Essex SE1.8Surrey 5.9
Warwickshire2.6Wiltshire 1.9
Clyde Coast & RenfrewNA Tayside0.3
Lea Roding24.3Greater Manchester Pennine 6.6
Private/vol Sector Private/vol Sector
Suffolk1.0Dorset 1.3
North Nottinghamshire0.3 North Staffordshire1.6
Leeds5.1Northumbria 0.2
North Cheshire1.2Wolverhampton NA
Call CentreCall Centre
Somerset0.5W. Sussex 0.5
Buckinghamshire6.7Cambridgeshire 2.7
Gwent Borders0.8Norwich 2.1
Calderdale and Kirklees7.3 Hull

VACANCIES

Action Areas
Basic Model
Notified
Jobcentre
Vacancies
Per cent of
SWFG
inflow
Control Areas
Basic Model
Notified
Jobcentre
Vacancies
Per cent of
SWFG
inflow
Essex SE17,00060 Surrey42,000108
Warwickshire12,50042 Wiltshire20,00054
Clyde Coast & Renfrew6,500 16Tayside14,500 36
Lea Roding14,00035 Greater Manchester
Pennine
19,500 26
Private/vol Sector Private/vol Sector
Suffolk14,00033 Dorset14,50036
North Nottinghamshire8,500 29North Staffordshire 24,50059
Leeds5001 Northumbria10,50031
North Cheshire14,00045 Wolverhampton10,00035
Call Centre Call Centre
Somerset8,00024 W. Sussex22,00064
Buckinghamshire15,500 49Cambridgeshire19,500 52
Gwent Borders26,00090 Norwich15,50034
Calderdale and
Kirklees
15,500 25Hull4,000 7

2.  THE ROLE OF EACH DEPARTMENT AND AGENCY (INCLUDING THE CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY) IN DELIVERING SERVICES THROUGH THE SINGLE GATEWAY AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES THAT WILL BE NEEDED IN ORDER TO INSTITUTE AND SUPPORT THE PILOTS.

  The Single Work-focused Gateway will be delivered by a core partnership of the Employment Service, the Benefits Agency and the Local Authorities. Each will have clear roles and responsibilities and the intention is that each client receives a seamless service.

  The SWFG project structure is designed to support joint ownership of the project between the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) and the Department of Social Security (DSS), and promote partnership working between the Departments, their two Agencies, Local Authorities and the private and voluntary sectors.

  Project staff consists of people from the DfEE, Employments Service/DSS, Benefits Agency and Local Authorities. Child Support Agency staff and representatives have been involved in the development and quality assurance of the SWFG processes and products such as training material and guidance.

Administrative changes/support to implement the pilots

  Local SWFG implementation plans have been drawn up which take into account their labour market and how individuals can be helped and supported in the context of their own community, capitalising on local expertise and the partnership already in place in the community. Field ES/BA and LA Staff have been consulted, wherever appropriate, and their involvement has contributed to the development of the work processes. Those undertaking the R&O and Personal Adviser role will be recruited from the core partners, as will the SWFG managers.

  One of the most significant innovations in implementing the cutlture change that the SWFG represents will be delivered through the relationship between the client and their Personal Adviser. Again these key posts have been opened to staff from each of the core partners. There have been pay and grading issues in putting this into practice because of differing Agency and LA terms and conditions, but these have been overcome in the short term to support the integrated approach.

  There are points throughout the SWFG process where the core partners, ES/BA/LAs in conjunction with the CSA, will need to work closely together to ensure that the infrastructure is in place so the customer receives a service which is "seamless". Legislation is being put in place to enable this joint working to occur.

  The operational implications of these points have been identified in the local process maps. Detailed analysis of the plans has taken place at each end of the pilot areas with staff involved in delivering the Gateway which have highlighted a need to ensure that:

    —  Clients going to a site which does not deliver Registration and Orientation and the Personal Adviser service are re-directed quickly and efficiently, and with minimum inconvenience to them.

    —  SWFG phone calls and mail going to sites which do not directly deliver the Gateway service are re-directed without any delay or diminution of service.

    —  Clients who are not eligible to go through the Gateway who make contact through a Gateway site are re-directed quickly and efficiently.

    —  Claim forms are promptly sent to the appropriate BA Processing Centres.

    —  Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claim forms are promptly sent to the appropriate LA office.

    —  Invalid Care Allowance claim forms are sent to Invalid Care Allowance Unit.

    —  Clients who are referred to specialist provision are followed up and appropriate action is agreed.

  There are certain areas which agencies will still retain responsibility for administering. These include:

    —  BA Processing will retain responsibility for processing of benefit claim forms, New Claims Activities (NCA) and payments.

    —  ES will retain responsibility for Fortnightly Jobsearch Reviews (FJR) and other JSA Interventions, and Vacancy Taking/Self Service (although there will be kiosks in SWFG sites).

    —  LAs will retain responsibility for processing all Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claim forms and payment.

    —  BA Processing will initially retain responsibility for CSA Good Cause Interviews. PAs will eventually be trained to carry out this task.

  These tasks will be undertaken as an integral part of the Personal Adviser service and the customer will perceive these handoffs as seamless. Links will be in place to ensure that the information is passed on and actioned quickly and efficiently.

  In order to maximise on experience to deliver the Personal Adviser Service, the PA team working will involve using people with a mix of background skills and knowledge (much of which will be shared between the team as time goes on). Each PA will retain responsibility for the resolution of issues for each of their clients, but will rely on other "experts" to give them help and advice. Therefore, we will capitalise on the experience of NDLP Adviers and others such as payment experts and HB/CTB experts and use what we have learnt from other strategies and initiatives involving the core partners and others. The teams will also develop disability knowledge and the relationship of the PA to the DEA.

 3.  THE ROLE THAT TECHNOLOGY WILL PLAY IN DELIVERING SERVICES THROUGH THE SINGLE GATEWAY.

  The success of SWFG will depend on harnessing the power of IT in support of more efficient internal processes, and more integrated public services. IT support for June will be based on access to a range of existing ES & BA IT systems, with some enhancements specifically tailored for SWFG business needs, although some clerical workarounds will be needed at the beginning of the pilots. The main operational support will be provided by the Labour Market System, OpStrat and a new Gateway Enquiry System (GES). In addition, offices will be provided with laptop computers, mobile phones and other facilities to help them provide an efficient and flexible service to clients.

  This approach for June was agreed as being necessary and appropriate to minimise additional technical risk to the project, and to meet the delivery deadline. Thereafter, our strategy is to develop, enhance and augment IT service provision in later stages in step with evolving requirements and new IT opportunities. Specific enhancements and developments will be required to support the IT requirements of the November Call Centre and Private/Voluntary Sector delivery variants, and the introduction of compulsion in April 2000.

  Whilst the main focus of our activities remains the June implementation and planning for the November and April milestones, we are also investigating the scope for mounting some small scale developmental IT prototypes later this year—eg, electronic claiming as used in the Lewisham prototype—to explore a greater potential role for IT in supporting service delivery. Proposals are currently being developed for consideration by the Project Board and Ministers.

4.  WHETHER OR NOT THERE ARE PLANS TO COMPARE THE SPEED AND ACCURACY OF BENEFITS PROCESSING IN PILOT AREAS, WITH THOSE IN CONTROL AREAS

  The operational research will compare the speed and accuracy of benefits processing in pilot areas with those in control areas. In addition to this it will compare the accuracy of benefit determination and benefit security measures in both the pilot and control areas. Security will be measured by looking at completion of benefit claim forms, and the provision of evidence to support a claim, and the amount of new claims activity, and the outcome of these investigations.

5.  THE ROLE OF THE SINGLE GATEWAY IN TESTING NEW ANTI-FRAUD INITIATIVES

  Many claimants drift into fraud following perfectly legitimate claims to benefit. For example, by doing some undeclared work or not reporting the return of a partner. The current "passive" benefits system does nothing to discourage this. Most claims to benefit are made by post and many claimants have no face-to-face contact with staff of the Department year on year. The SWFG will provide a more active regime with regular contact between advisers and claimants. While the prime object of such contact is to maintain the work focus, it is also likely to have a strong deterrent effect in terms of benefit fraud.

6.  THE RELATIONSHIP IN THE PILOT AREAS BETWEEN THE SINGLE GATEWAY AND THE REVISED ALL-WORK TEST

  The purpose of the new capability element of the Personal Capability Assessment is to provide medical information which will help clients and their adviser plan a route towards independence. We will, therefore, be piloting the new capability assessment alongside the Single Gateway pilots in all areas from November 1999.

  We anticipate that most claimants to incapacity benefit will undergo a work-focused interview at the outset of their claim. At that interview the adviser will discuss any barriers the person has to work, including their illness/disabilty. However, the main focus of these interviews will be on other employability issues—previous work experience, skills and qualifications, employment aspirations, etc. The Personal Capability Assessment will typically take place some months after the initial claim. Here the focus is clearly on medical aspects. Relevant information about a claimant's capacity to undertake work will then be passed to the adviser who may then call the person in for another interview to discuss this new information.

  The Personal Capacity Assessment will not always lead to a further interview. It may simply confirm what the adviser was told at the initial interview and so there would be no new factors to discuss. Or it may be that the individual is already working with the adviser on a plan to improve their employability and thus there would be no need to impose an additional interview.

A: THE PRIVATE AND VOLUNTARY SECTOR VARIANTS

2.  WHY ARE ORGANISATIONS WHICH ARE MAINLY UNDERWRITTEN BY PUBLIC FUNDS INELIGIBLE TO TENDER FOR THE DELIVERY OF THE SINGLE WORK-FOCUSED GATEWAY? DOES THIS INCLUDE CITIZENS' ADVICE BUREAUX?

  The Government is keen to harness the ideas and expertise that the private and voluntary sectors can offer in developing innovative and flexible ways of delivering SWFG. It was therefore agreed that organisations set up via the use of public funds, or underwritten by the public sector, would not be invited to lead the delivery of SWFG in the private and voluntary sector variant pilot areas. Partnership between public and private bodies is clearly essential to the success of the Single Work-focused Gateway.

  Only one CAB responded to the SWFG advertisement, but did not return the completed documents required for the shortlisting stage. Research evidence suggests that CAB generally receive most of their funding from public funds, primarily via direct Local Authority grants. CAB would, therefore, probably have been ineligible to lead SWFG bids, although the financial status of any CAB submitting a bid would have been checked carefully to determine their eligibility.

  This certainly does not mean that Citizens' Advice Bureaux will be excluded from involvement with the private/voluntary sector-led pilots, however. The Government wishes private and/or voluntary sector lead organisations to work in close partnership with each other and with public agencies and publicly funded organisations such as CAB. The proposed approach to working with local private/voluntary and public sector partners at strategic, advisory and delivery levels will be a key area for attention during the assessment of bids.

3.  PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS IN THE PRIVATE/VOLUNTARY SECTOR PILOTS HAVE BEEN INVITED TO PROPOSE "OPPORTUNITIES TO ADD VALUE TO THE CORE ES/BA FUNCTIONS EG JSA INTERVENTIONS [AND] HANDLING FRONT OF OFFICE CUSTOMER ENQUIRIES ABOUT BENEFITS"

 (a)   What was the reasoning behind the invitation and what proposals have been received?

  The Government agreed the scope of the private and voluntary sector variant last December. The main reason for involving the private and voluntary sectors is to encourage innovation by harnessing their skills, experience and expertise. They will work in close partnership with the agencies and local authorities in four of the twelve pilot areas. Any innovative proposals for adding value to core ES/BA functions will be developed in close consultation with the Agencies. Outline proposals were received on a commercial in confidence basis in February, from which a shortlist has been drawn up (attached at Annex A). Final proposals will not be received until the end of July when the competition ends. The winning proposals will be announced at the beginning of September.

 (b)   What provider organisations did the Government have in mind when it proposed this initiative?

  The competition has been open from the outset. Any private or voluntary sector organisation able to demonstrate its ability to meet the criteria was eligible to apply. The very reason for having an open competition was to see which private and voluntary sector organisations would be interested in developing innovative proposals. All organisations have been assessed against the same criteria in order to draw up the shortlist and will be so again in order to award the final contracts.

4.  WILL ALL NINE OF THE "KEY HIGH LEVEL ASSESSMENT AREAS" USED TO SELECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS IN THE PRIVATE/VOLUNTARY SECTOR VARIANT CARRY EQUAL WEIGHT?

  Selection of the successful bids will be based on those proposals which demonstrate the optimum combination of quality, cost and risk. Careful assessment will be made of the extent to which proposals are likely to meet Government objectives and the extent to which where a failure to meet requirements could jeopardise the delivery of SWFG. The overall focus of the final assessment will be on three areas:

    —  innovative ideas and the potential for added value within SWFG;

    —  breadth of partnerships, including proposals for working inclusively with other private/voluntary sector organisations and the public sector; and

    —  value for money ie the balance of quality cost and risk and the potential to bring additional sources of funding to add value.

5.  HOW MANY OF THE SHORT-LISTED ORGANISATIONS HAVE PREVIOUSLY HELD RELEVANT CONTRACTS?

  As SWFG is a new concept, bringing together for the first time the different elements of benefit service delivery, it is difficult to make direct links with contracts held previously. However, all the organisations (and their consortia partners) shortlisted for the private/voluntary sector competition have previously been involved or currently hold contracts for the delivery of some aspects of the services which will form SWFG, or welfare to work programmes operated outside the UK, and have experience of working in partnership with others. Examples of previous/current contracts are:

    —  New Deal for 18-24 year olds (including Private Sector-Lead);

    —  New Deal for over 25s (including Private Sector-Lead);

    —  BA's former ADAPT programme;

    —  New Deal for the Disabled;

    —  Opportunity America.

5.  CAN YOU GIVE SOME EXAMPLES OF THE INNOVATIVE IDEAS PROPOSED BY PRIVATE/VOLUNTARY SECTOR ORGANISATIONS THAT HAVE BID FOR CONTRACTS TO DELIVER THE SINGLE WORK-FOCUSED GATEWAY?

  The bidders' proposals are commercially confidential. However, once the winning bids have been selected and contracts have been awarded in early September, the terms of the SWFG contract will allow for wider dissemination of proposals.

B: EVALUATION

 6.  IF THE PILOTS PROVE TO BE INEFFECTIVE WILL THE NATIONAL ROLL-OUT BE ABANDONED?

  Decisions on national roll-out will obviously be made in the light of the findings in the pilots. The pilots are scheduled to run until 2002. We will be evaluating them as they develop. As yet, no commitment has been made to roll-out nationally or to wait until 2002 to do that or to wait until 2002 to decide to do that.

7.  DOES THE GOVERNMENT EXPECT THE EVALUATION TO YIELD A PREFERRED OPTION, WHICH WILL BE THE TEMPLATE FOR A NATIONAL ROLL-OUT, OR DOES IT ANTICIPATE THAT ANY NATIONAL ROLL-OUT WOULD INCORPORATE A RANGE OF DELIVERY MECHANISMS?

  No decisions have been made yet about national roll-out. We will want to take full account of evaluation evidence when deciding if and when to roll out, and which delivery mechanisms to use in doing so.

8.  WHEN WILL THE FIRST INTERIM ASSESSMENTS BE AVAILABLE?

  Quantitative information on the immediate labour market effects, 2-3 months after joining SWFG should be available for the non-compulsory pilots in Autumn 2000, with findings on the medium term labour market effects available in Autumn 2001.

  For the Compulsory pilots, quantitative information on the immediate labour market effects should be available in Autumn 2001, and for medium term effects in Winter 2001-2.

  Information from the qualitative research for both pilots will be available earlier.

9.  OVER WHAT PERIOD WILL THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE GATEWAY BE TRACKED?

  The participants in the Gateway may be tracked at any point during the pilot and there is scope to use the evaluation database to track them beyond the pilots. This includes tracking those who have more than one spell in SWFG.

 10.  HAVE THE AREAS BEEN CHOSEN SUCH THAT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PRIVATE/VOLUNTARY SECTOR PILOTS CAN BE EVALUATED AGAINST THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR PILOTS?

  The aim of the SWFG pilots is to test out the SWFG approach. The pilots have been designed to evaluate each of the three models as a whole. The evaluation will consider each of the different models (basic, call centre and private/voluntary sector) in comparison with the control areas and to each other. The evaluation comprises four elements: policy and delivery evaluations, cost-benefit analysis and a database.

  Where appropriate, the policy evaluation and the cost-benefit analysis will compare the performance of the private/voluntary sector model, as a whole, with that of the basic and call centre models. They will also compare the performance of this model with its control areas.

  Evaluation of the delivery of the private/voluntary sector model will be treated differently because the aim is to assess different ways of delivering the service. Thus, each method of delivery tested by the private/voluntary sector will be included in the delivery evaluation. The ability to aggregate information across different delivery methods will depend on the diversity in the private/voluntary sector model. If there is significant diversity, aggregation would not provide meangingful information on which aspects of delivery work and which do not.

11.  WILL EACH PRIVATE SECTOR MODEL OF DELIVERY BE EVALUATED AGAINST THE OTHERS?

  The primary intention of the evaluation is to compare the private/voluntary sector model as a whole against the basic and call centre models, not to compare the different private/voluntary sector contracts.

  Where possible, the policy evaluation will treat the private/voluntary sector model as a whole. However, the delivery research (both the social and operational research) will consider different modes of delivery by private/voluntary sector contractor. The delivery evaluation will seek to outline good practice in all the pilot models which can be adopted elsewhere. It will include qualitative interviews with SWFG staff and clients and case studies of delivery, which will provide a rounded picture of how SWFG is operating, including management arrangements.

  Management information will be collected for each private/voluntary sector contract and this will measure activity in these areas: it is not designed to provide comparison of outcomes.

12.  WILL ANY ATTEMPT BE MADE TO EVALUATE THE PERFORMANCE OF INDIVIDUAL PARTNERS?

  One of the main themes underpinning SWFG is the delivery of benefits through partnerships between public sector organisations. The primary intention on evaluation these partnerships is therefore to examine delivery in an area as a whole, not to consider the relative performance of the Employment Service, Benefits Agency or Local Authorities. Thus, the delivery evaluation will consider how joint working is operating and identify best practice, barriers and solutions.

 13.  WILL THE EVALUATION ASSESS THE IMPACT OF THE SINGLE WORK-FOCUSED GATEWAY ON PARTICULAR CLIENT GROUPS?

  The main focus will be on jobseekers, lone parents and those suffering long-standing illness and disabled people, as they constitute the majority of claimants who come through SWFG. We will be analysing data on other client groups but the numbers may be insufficient to provide robust results. The client survey will assess the short and medium term impact of SWFG on the three main client groups. Qualitative research will also be carried out with other groups of clients. Management information will be available for all client groups, although it will take time to build up sufficient information to allow statistically reliable analysis.

14.  THE PILOT AREAS ARE INTERNALLY HETEROGENEOUS. WILL THE IMPACT OF THE SINGLE WORK-FOCUSED GATEWAY ON SUB-AREAS OF THE BENEFIT AGENCY DISTRICTS BE ASSESSED?

  The four areas that make up each pilot model were chosen to represent a range of labour market types. The pilots have been designed to evaluate each of the three models as a whole. The evaluation's unit of analysis is therefore each model, not the four areas that make up each model, or sub-areas below this.

  The database should enable us to monitor certain SWFG activities for sub-areas but we will not be able to assess the impact of SWFG by sub-area. Any publication of this data would be subject to methodological considerations and the need to ensure confidentiality of claimants.

C:  FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS AND THE USE OF IT

15.  WHAT MODERN TECHNOLOGY, OTHER THAN CALL CENTRES AND THAT WHICH IS ALREADY BEING USED BY ONE OR OTHER OF THE AGENCIES, WILL BE DEPLOYED TO MAKE THE SINGLE WORK-FOCUSED GATEWAY AS QUICK AND EFFICIENT AS POSSIBLE?

  See answer to question 3, page 5 above.

16.  WHAT PLANS ARE THERE TO DEVELOP IT SYSTEMS WHICH WILL AID THE INTEGRATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY?

  See answer to question 3, page 5 above.

17.  WHAT EVALUATION HAS THE GOVERNMENT MADE OF THE DUTCH EXPERIENCE WITH CENTRES FOR INCOME AND WORK AND HOW THEY MIGHT RELATE TO THE SINGLE WORK-FOCUSED GATEWAY?

  The Government has taken a close interest in the development of Centres for Income and Work. Following meetings at Ministerial level, a framework was agreed for bilateral exchanges between the UK and the Netherlands. Recently, officials from the Employment Service and the DfEE visited the Netherlands to investigate their provision and discuss similarities and difficulties, which was then followed up by a visit by Andrew Smith which included a visit to a Centre for Income and Work in Haarlem. The officials mainly responsible for the development of policy on CWIs also visited the UK recently and visited the SWFG project office and talked to senior policy officials involved in developing SWFG. We are currently investigating the possibility of arranging a further meeting to focus specifically on the evaluation of the two initiatives.

D:  PERSONAL ADVISERS

 18.  HOW MANY PERSONAL ADVISERS WILL THERE BE IN EACH OF THE PILOT AREAS AT THE START OF THE PILOTS AND STEADY STATE FLOW?

  In the initial round of recruitment an average of about 55 advisers have been recruited for each of the basic model pilots. The pilots are reviewing the need for additional recruitment and setting up arrangements for on-going post filling.

  The process design for the call centre pilot is still being developed. The number of Personal Advisers will become clear once this is finalised. The number of advisers for the private and voluntary sector will depend on the bids submitted.

19.  HOW MANY PERSONAL ADVISERS DOES THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE WILL BE REQUIRED NATIONWIDE AT NATIONAL ROLL OUT?

  There is currently no estimate for the number of Personal Advisers that would be needed for national roll out. The purpose of piloting the initiative is to test what works well, and what optimum resource is required to support such delivery. Clearly, any national estimate would be pre-empting the findings of the pilots.

20.  ACCORDING TO THE JOINT MEMORANDUM SUPPLIED BEFORE THE EVIDENCE SESSION, PERSONAL ADVISERS WILL REMAIN ON THEIR HOME AGENCY TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE DURING THE PILOTS, BUT THIS WILL BE KEPT UNDER REVIEW. IS IT LIKELY THAT THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE WILL BE HARMONISED AT NATIONAL ROLL-OUT?

  Staff will indeed remain on their home agency terms and conditions of service during the pilots. This approach will remain under review in order to detect any problems arising during the pilots, and would be reviewed again at the point of national roll out.

  The Agencies are working closely together (during the same timescale as the pilots) to ensure that terms and conditions are consistent, and that differences between them would not obstruct national roll out of SWFG. The current differences, where they exist, do not impede joint working.

  On pay comparability, work is at present being undertaken to discuss the issue between participating agencies.

  People from different agencies who fill SWFG Adviser posts will be paid at different rates for doing the same job because they will remain on their own "home" agency terms and conditions during the pilots.

  Agency pay scales already differ for staff doing comparable jobs, and they also differ within agencies for staff doing the same job, depending on length of time and performance. Civil service agencies and local authorities have devolved responsibility for pay and grading, and issues on pay comparability between agencies, or between agencies and LAs, should be seen in the context of those arrangements, rather than the Single Work-focused Gateway.

  The agencies are considering whether steps could be taken to move towards greater convergence of pay scales between ES and BA in the longer term. Proposals would have to be considered carefully, particularly taking into account the sensitivities of staff who are not in SWFG posts, and any discussions would form part of the pay negotiations remit for each agency.

E.  PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS

21.  DATA ON THE ANTICIPATED IN-FLOWS IN THE PILOT AREAS AND CONTROL AREAS, BROKEN DOWN BY THE TYPE OF BENEFIT BEING CLAIMED.

  Data on the anticipated in-flows in the pilot and control areas are currently being revised. These data will be provided, broken down by type of benefit being claimed, once the revisions have been finalised.

22.  WHAT ASSESSMENT HAS THE GOVERNMENT MADE OF THE PROPORTION OF CLIENTS WHO WILL:

    a.  undergo only registration and orientation interviews;

    b.  undergo a single work-focused interview;

    c.  undergo multiple interviews; and

    d.  be "caseloaded" because their claims or circumstances are complex?

  The expectation is that almost all SWFG clients will go through the registration and orientation interview and undertake a work-focused interview at the point of claim. They will have further mandatory interviews triggered by the occurrence of specified events. Personal advisers will encourage clients to undertake voluntary interviews, in addition to mandatory interventions. The frequency of these interviews will depend on the individual circumstances of the client.


May 1999




 
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