Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Seetec

INTRODUCTION TO SEETEC

  1.  Seetec is a provider of Welfare to Work programmes for Jobcentre Plus. Over the years we have gained considerable experience of working with Incapacity Benefit claimants coming through our centres on mainstream programmes (New Deal, Work Based Learning for Adults and Private Sector Lead), New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP), European Social Fund and more recently Pathways to Work (The IB Reform Pilots). As a consequence we feel that our knowledge and experience may be of interest to the Select Committee.

  2.  Seetec is an Essex based provider operating in more than 10 Jobcentre Plus districts around the country. We have been delivering NDDP since 2001 and in that time have registered over 2,000 claimants, finding almost 40% jobs with 60% keeping their jobs for over 13 weeks. I am delighted to report that all these figures are targeted to increase and by 2006-07 we would hope to see over 50% of registered claimants in jobs with 70% sustaining them.

  3.  Being based in Essex we have also been working closely with the NHS and Jobcentre Plus on delivering introductory modules for the Condition Management Programme, part of Pathways to Work. As a consequence of this development we have gained an insight into the interactions and impacts of health management in the context of back to work programmes.

EVIDENCE

No Shows

  4.  "No Shows" are people who have been referred/self-referred to a programme, booked an appointment and then do not make an appearance. The reasons for this are many: lack of confidence, forgetfulness, hospital appointments, do not wish to attend, etc. From our experience in Essex, the problem is particularly acute on the Condition Management Programme (CMP) when compared to NDDP. From August 2004 to February 2005 73 individuals were booked on an introductory CMP course with Seetec. Only 58% turned up for the first day of the two-day course while 81% of those who registered on day one returned for day two. This compares to 85% who book an initial assessment with Seetec on NDDP and subsequently turn up for their appointment.

  5.  The Introductory course is the gateway to the rest of the CMP. In conversation with specialist providers of the health modules that follow, "No shows" continue to build. Thus, even though the numbers attending mandatory Work Focused Interviews (WFI) may be high the actual number making it through to the end of the CMP is likely to be very low, making the unit cost of CMP very high.

  6.  We believe that the differences between CMP and NDDP "No Shows" may be partly due to the fact that at the point of contact the NDDP client has decided that they want to return to work. In addition they receive very thorough information, advice and guidance over the phone so that they can make an appropriate decision, the provision is "joined up" and the gap between making the booking and having the appointment is short (less than five days).

  7.  Our recommendations to address the "No Shows" issue are:

    —    Add a piece of legislative process to Pathways to Work to ensure that people pass through the entire system and not just part of it.

    —    For those responsible for Pathways to Work to track and assess people throughout the entire Pathways to Work process rather than just parts of it. (As far as we are aware neither of these are in place at the moment, leaving effectiveness wide open to debate).

    —    Add more pace and purpose to CMP.

Claimants

  8.  As indicated above, since 2001 we have registered over 2,000 claimants onto NDDP, finding 40% jobs with 60% keeping those jobs for over 13 weeks. These figures are increasing and by 2006-07 we expect to see over 50% of registered claimants in jobs with 70% sustaining them (this is evidence that people with disabilities are loyal workers in the labour market). We have found that when Pathways to Work is introduced to a district the numbers of people with disabilities going onto mainstream programmes increases significantly, eg, in Derbyshire the number of people with disabilities on our programmes has grown from about 3% to 17%. Therefore, there needs to be adequate mainstream funding to support the increase.

  9.  We have found that our greatest challenge is to engage clients in the first place. When we first started to deliver NDDP, mass media advertising readily attracted claimants. However, as time went by the effectiveness of this approach decreased. We are finding that clients are increasingly less confident about coming forward or afraid of involuntarily losing their benefits. To combat this we use field based staff to engage clients in places where they congregate, eg, community centres, hospitals, clubs, etc, to explain how we can help and thereby address confidence issues. More recently we have introduced a "bring a friend" scheme, which seems to be catching on.

  10.  The current split of our clients' disabilities is: 45% physical, 31% mental, 24% other. However, we find that the mental health category and harder to help clients grow significantly faster when Pathways to Work is introduced to a district. Clearly this phenomena needs to be built into any future planning. We have found that the gender split is fairly constant at 62% male and 38% female.

  11.  The majority of people who register on our NDDP programme are IB claimants. We have a number of inquiries from those on Income Support (IS) but these rarely register due to the benefits' trap.

  12.  The 52-week linking rule, which is designed to protect claimants in the event that they need to return to benefits from a period of work, is generally viewed as being too complex to be successfully administered. As a consequence, many claimants do not view the rule as a safety net at all.

  13.  Our recommendations to address the "Claimants" issues are:

    —    Review the interpretation that agencies such as Jobcentre Plus place upon the Data Protection Act so that direct marketing of government programmes can take place.

    —    Ensure that there are support services in place for clients who are deemed to be "fit for work" and who, in reality, are not.

    —    Review whether there is an in-balance of men to women with disabilities wanting to return to work

    —    Address the benefits' trap.

    —    Simplify the administration of the 52-week linking rule.


 
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