Memorandum submitted by Reed in Partnership
Reed in Partnership is a Public Limited Company
dedicated to the ideals of Social Inclusion and helping to regenerate
the most disadvantaged communities in the UK We have been at the
forefront of welfare-to-work in the UK since our inception in
1998, when we became the first private sector led company to deliver
New Deal. Since then, we have operated large-scale programmes
and targeted local initiatives across the UK We work with Jobcentre
Plus, local authorities, Learning and Skills Councils and over
200 local and national partners in the voluntary, public and private
sectors. Our mission is to become the partner of choice for developing
people and their communities. We welcome this opportunity to provide
a written response to the Select Committee inquiry into the reform
of incapacity benefits and Pathways to Work.
Key points in our submission are:
Pathways to Work remains unproven
as a best value solution for assisting the flow of new IB recipients
back into employment.
The Pathways to Work approach
could be part of a package of solutions capable of assisting IB
clients from within the stock of longer term IB recipients.
There is no "benefit"
to being incapacitated and we welcome any approach that changes
the name of the allowance to something that focuses recipients
upon getting better and back to work. We believe that greater
numbers have the potential to fulfil productive lives than either
the current system or indeed potentially the future system anticipates.
The independent sector (both
private and voluntary) has not been sufficiently engaged in the
pilots resulting in inadequate testing of best value and innovation
relative to assisting the client group.
Given current financial limitations
we do not believe that Pathways to Work should be rolled out nationally;
and that a Pathways focused on sections of the stock of IB clients
should remain focused on the 30 Districts with the highest levels
of IB claimant.
Solutions based around the Action
Team model can deliver significant outcomes for IB clients at
a cost significantly lower than the Pathways to Work model.
We have endeavoured to answer all points raised
for response in the inquiry either based on our knowledge of delivery
or from our interpretation of available research.
On reviewing our written evidence, if we can
further assist the Committee with their inquiry we would welcome
the opportunity to give oral evidence.
What lessons can be learned from Pathways to Work
pilots in shaping the direction of the reform of incapacity benefits
The Pathways to Work pilots are still in their
infancy and preliminary research is confined to a small sample.
At present, it is difficult to come to any concrete conclusions
about the success of Pathways to Work. Using initial research
material from the Pathways to Work pilots and from our own experiences
in delivering Welfare to Work contracts across the UK where we
have specific experience in engaging IB recipients through delivering
two Working Neighbourhood Pilots (Gorbals and Tower Hamlets) and
12 Action Team for Jobs contracts. We believe that:
Initial results show that the
majority of clients currently being engaged through Pathways are
closer to the labour market and more likely to possess the desire
to work and the pre-requisite skills set needed to adjust to a
Research by DWP also illustrated,
via a sample of participants in the IB pilots, "little evidence
that the pilot was changing negative attitudes towards work among
some IB recipients".
A Pathways to Work "type"
approach needs to engage long-term IB recipients rather than focusing
on the flow on to IB with whom more cost effective solutions can
be deployed. Over the last seven years IB has risen only by 200,000
(from May 1998-July 2005).
We therefore know that the majority of IB recipients have been
in receipt of IB for over seven years and it is with sections
of this group that Pathways would add greater value.
Therefore the main lesson that can be learned
from Pathways to Work pilots in shaping the direction of the reform
of IB is that a work focused approach to assisting recipients
overcome their barriers and achieve enhanced health (as well as
wealth) benefits through returning to work must lie at the heart
of the reforms. At this stage however there are significant question
marks over issues relating to the targeted client group and the
related value for money to the public purse of the Pathways approach
when compared to other Welfare to Work initiatives that can address
the issues of assisting IB claimants back into employment.
What are the Implications of DWP's proposals for
the new structure of incapacity benefits? Do they address the
complications inherent in the existing incapacity benefit system?
Is a dual benefit the right approach? Could it be improved?
It is our view that any changes to the new structure
of Incapacity Benefit should be kept as simple as possible. We
believe that there is indeed a need for a dual benefit approach
that ensures continued assistance for those who quite simply will
never be able to work. We strongly support the ethos of Jobcentre
Plus that emphasises work for those who can and support for those
who cannot. Where we may differ is in the fact that we genuinely
believe that if you focus on an individuals creative talents rather
than exclusively on their barriers far more people are capable
of work than the currentand potentially the futureproposals
for Incapacity Benefit recognise.
We welcome any approach that simply changes
the name of the benefit for the vast majority as quite simply
there is no "benefit" to being incapacitated and any
approach that emphasises that recipients are on a "Rehabilitation
Allowance" is a positive step forward in reinforcing the
fact that we believe people can get better and fulfil productive
If we are to ensure that as many people are
given the opportunity to re-enter employment and make positive
life changes over time then the dual system should initially ensure
that only the 10% of IB claimants on Severe Disablement Allowance
are placed on the new Incapacity Benefit with all others initially
placed on to the "Rehabilitation Allowance". It is essential
thereafter to ensure that the process of placing people on to
Rehabilitation Allowance is as simple and transparent as possible
and does not result in some of the current process issues around
the way in which IB is calculated and awarded and the inherent
inefficiencies that exist in that process.
Will the reforms help to improve incentives for
sick and disabled people?
The overall emphasis of the reforms will generally
help clients wishing to be engaged and looking for support and
assistance in re-entering the labour market. However, simply changing
the type of "allowance" paid to recipients will in itself
not be enough. Minor adaptations to the range of existing welfare
to work provision can, in conjunction with the benefit reforms,
greatly improve the prospects and incentives for sick and disabled
The initial remit for Pathways is to introduce
IB reforms to new claimants only. This will exclude the majority
long-term IB recipients therefore the effectiveness of Pathways
could be limited in the short-term. We are concerned about this
on two levels.
Firstly we believe that for new claimants there
are far more cost effective ways of assisting them to overcome
their issues and re-enter the labour market. Over the past year
we have focused greater energy on to addressing the needs of IB
claimants through our Action Team contracts and during this period
have increased the number engaged and re-entering employment by
100%. We are convinced that the Action Team approach for all new
claimants will deliver far greater and more cost effective results
than Pathways to Work. The Action Team approach delivers intensive
outreach combined with close links to community organisations,
has strong employer links and intensive personal adviser support
for participants. This approach works for IB claimant participants
at a cost to the public purse of around £2,000 per placement
as opposed to the more expensive Pathways option that at very
best estimates exceeds £3,000 per placement, with some anecdotal
evidence of significantly higher cost per placement via Pathways.
We do however, believe that the Pathways to
Work approach has the potential to deliver positive outcomes for
some clients among the longer term IB recipient group and it is
this group that Pathways to Work should focus on.
For those seeking help back in to work the
financial package of assistance designed to encourage re-entry
to the labour market is welcomed. The Return to Work Credit will
allow clients the opportunity to make the long-term transition
from benefits to employment. In addition, the Advisers Discretionary
Fund, available to Personal Advisers will help to alleviate initial
financial costs by assisting with interview costs and short job
focussed training. Our one concern with this approach is the likelihood
of participants returning to some form of benefit at the end of
the one-year period during which they receive the Return to Work
Credit. It is our view that this financial resource could be utilised
more effectively if it were available in a more flexible manner,
in particular in assisting participants to overcome debt issues
that often exist during the transition from worklessness to work.
Greater flexibility in the use of this resource would enable more
tailored solutions for the individual.
Our experience of working with economically
inactive clients (primarily those in receipt of IB in the Gorbals
and Tower Hamlets) has shown that financial incentives alone are
not sufficient to empower and enable people to re-enter the labour
market. Our research and experience has shown that the one to
one support and interventions our Occupational Psychologist and
Personal Advisers provide is of equal importance.
Is it possible to distinguish between those who
are able to return to work and those who cannot?
Yes, as previously stated our concern is that
too often people are assumed not capable of work when they are
both capable and willing, if their barriers are addressed and
their positive talents are developed. Our experience in delivering
a diverse portfolio of Welfare to Work Initiatives across the
UK has clearly shown that it is possible to differentiate between
clients who are able to return to the labour market, those who
cannot, and those who are not yet ready to do sobut can
start the journey towards employment.
Reed in Partnership has developed an employability
needs questionnaire designed by our lead in house Occupational
Psychologist (OP), David Carew. The employability template is
based upon a framework successfully developed by the Finnish government.
The employability questionnaire equips our Personal Advisers (PA)
with the methodology needed to make informed decisions about the
barriers clients face and perceive. The questionnaire combined
with OP and PA support enables clients to identify and overcome
barriers far more quickly than traditional interventions and can
ensure that our teams are working effectively with those who can
work, those who need additional support and indeed to recognise
those who cannot work.
Many clients we encounter often feel disenfranchised
by the present system for a variety of different reasons. The
most predominant one being a mistrust of mainstream agencies that
is normally confounded by a bad experience, suspicion of motive
and general stigmatisation.
Our engagement activity is underpinned by a
process, which involves one to one interventions and personal
support to develop soft skills that enhance the client's employability.
Our OP works in tandem with a designated Personal Adviser to prepare
a Personal Development Plan that incorporates the support mechanisms
and specialist assistance the client needs to commence the journey
back in to the labour market. The one to one OP interventions
include elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to determine
the client's own personal barriers. This support will be continuous
and dependent upon the clients own circumstances.
What are the Implications of the Reforms on Levels
of Fraud and Error?
Simplification of the current system will reduce
fraud and error although it is to early to say if the proposed
system will effectively achieve this.
Will the Reforms Address the Main Areas of Concern
with the Current System?
At present the system is generally perceived
as bureaucratic, cumbersome and time consuming. The new system
will need to address this perception. The reforms should help
to introduce an employability framework that will help differentiate
those who can work from those who cannot.
The new reforms will need to introduce a decision-making
process that is efficient and straightforward. The proposed "holding
benefit" awarded until the client satisfies the criteria,
in the Personal Capability Assessment Test, is expected to normally
occur within a 12 week time period. After speaking to our network
of health practitioners in the voluntary sector we feel this timescale
would be very ambitious and concerns lie within the decision making
process. In our experience, providing the correct diagnosis in
the first instance is crucial. Our belief is that the decision
making process could be more inclusive of wider healthcare professionals.
However if the vast majority of new claimants
are placed on to a "Rehabilitation Allowance" with a
mandatory work focused activity programme much of the previous
bureaucracy can be overcome.
How Successful have the Pathways to Work Pilots
been? Does the Current Design need to be Adapted for National
Firstly it is our view that Pathways to Work
should not be rolled out nationally. All evidence shows that there
is a clear geography of unemployment based around IB in the UK
and it is our view that Pathways to Work Resources should be focused
on those areas of greatest need, and primarily amongst the stock
of IB claimants.
It is clear that where sufficient jobs exist
in a local economy that levels of IB recipients is very low (ie
Hampshire, Berks, Suffolk and Surrey all have IB claimant levels
at or below 2.5% of working age population), yet in the old industrial
heartlands, almost exclusively in the North East, North West,
Yorkshire and Humber, Wales and Scotland lie the top 30 Districts
with IB levels ranging from 11.9% to 20.5% of the working age
population. We are convinced that Pathways to Work activity should
focus on these areas to ensure the most effective use of resources
from the public purse. Incorporating Pathways to Work elements
such as Condition Management Programmes into Building on New Deal
(BoND) type activity in other areas of the UK would ensure that
lead provider organisations tailor solutions to meet the needs
of individuals on a "Rehabilitation Allowance", who
should be eligible for participation in BoND type programmes.
Figures released by DWP from the Destination
of Benefit Leavers showed that the national Incapacity Benefit
Return to Work figures was 52% compared to 56% for Pathways to
Work areas. This initial evidence shows a small marginal increase
of 4% in the overall rate of employment through Pathways. It is
difficult to gauge therefore whether the main aspects of Pathways
to Work have made the difference or whether simply the mandating
of clients and pre vocational/motivational support provided in
addition to or via NDDP Job brokers etc are responsible for the
What are the Implications of a Rollout of Pathways
to Work on a new System of Incapacity Benefit?
We are convinced that a new system of incapacity
benefit and work focused provision such as Pathways to Work are
inextricably linked, however we are not yet convinced that Pathways
is or indeed should be the only answer to the work focused element
of reform. We remain convinced that Pathways has a role to play,
however this should be in addition to mandatory and voluntary
programmes for new recipients and the stock of IB claimants based
around the Action Team model of engagement with OP support. Given
the current financial constraints on government spending we do
not believe that it is possible to roll out Pathways to Work nationally
as the only work focused proposition for claimants of the new
system of incapacity benefit.
We believe that the private and voluntary sector
can play a pivotal role in the delivery of Pathways by helping
to facilitate a number of services on behalf of Jobcentre Plus
and use our established network of partners to increase the overall
performance delivery but more importantly the independent sector
can deliver more cost effective solutions beyond Pathways for
the client group.
Including: the Experience of Those who have Taken
part in Different Aspects of the Pathways to Work Pilots; Barriers
in Accessing Support Offered Through Pathways; Awareness of the
Support Available; and Views on Further Reform
It is regrettable that the independent sector
(both voluntary and private) has not been more directly involved
in the delivery of Pathways to Work pilots and it is therefore
difficult for us to comment. Additionally the research samples
we have seen so far are too small to make any formal conclusions
and are subject to widescale variations often dependent on localised
Using the research undertaken so far, we have
noted a number of preliminary findings that should be emphasised
to the Select Committee:
(i) People's views and experiences were influenced
by their initial orientation to work. A number of sub-groups were
identified one group that was highly motivated, another group
wanted to work but sometime in the future while a third group
did not view work as desirable or possible.
(ii) Clients welcomed the financial advice,
Condition Management Programme and the identification of further
provision, including employment brokerage as very helpful. Again
it should be noted that the level of service varied considerably
and highlighted the disparities in training across different regions.
(iii) In many respects the provision format
was very rigid and many clients felt that other services should
be amalgamated in to the support packages on offer. This included
access to self-help groups and the need to change employer attitudes
with regards to the stigmatisms associated with IB recipients.
(iv) The most significant finding was "there
was little evidence that the pilot was changing negative attitudes
towards work among some incapacity benefit recipients."
Are People with Different Disabilities and Health
Conditions, in both Pilot and Non-Pilot Areas, Given Appropriate
Support by Jobcentre Plus? Is there a Tendency to Help Those Perceived
as Closer to the Labour Market?
Within the pilot areas there is evidence from
research conducted to date that some Advisers are using their
discretionary powers to exempt clients that they believe are too
difficult to deal with from the programme, thereby focusing their
effort on those closer to the labour market in order to achieve
their targets. Through mainstream national programmes such as
NDDP, clients with disabilities and health problems do have access
to provision. In effect however, the current funding regimes mean
that often NDDP job brokers are only equipped to deal with clients
who are close to the labour market and are unable to provide the
specialist services required to help clients back on the journey
towards sustainable employment. Overall therefore it is our view
that Pathways to Work could be better utilised in addressing the
needs of those further from the labour market and that more attention
should be devoted to this group to ensure that whilst placing
those closest to employment into sustainable work the ground is
being prepared to enable those slightly further away to maximise
the opportunity of employment in the future.
How will the Reforms Help Those who are not Able,
or not yet Ready, to Work?
Without appropriate work focused intervention
programmes it is as yet unclear how the reforms will help those
who are not yet ready for work.
Can the Reformed Systems Support Those with Variable
and Manageable Medical Conditions, or Those who are Able to Work
Part-Time? Are Those with Mental Health Difficulties Adequately
The reformed systems has the potential to support
those with variable and manageable medical conditions but this
is dependent upon a number of factors:
(i) Effective training for IB Advisers that
highlights the barriers the vast majority of IB clients suffer
from. The use of effective diagnostic tools to aid in identifying
the underlying causes of the clients barriers.
(ii) Greater methodology has to be introduced
to properly diagnose barriers and problems, so that the initial
prognosis is correct. Often clients on IB are diagnosed with a
symptom of an underlying problem rather than the problem itself.
(iii) Partnership arrangements with the health
sector, and healthcare professionals, needs to be clarified and
realigned, especially with regards to the role of GP's. No standard
cohesive referral system is in place to regulate this process
and in general the role of the health sector and health professionals
Our experience of engaging clients in receipt
of IB clearly shows that there is a lack of understanding with
regards to permitted work, permitted earnings and return to work
credits. The level of knowledge within Jobcentre Plus will vary
considerable and will be dependent upon the individual's knowledge
and experience. Mental health is only now becoming a recognised
barrier to returning to work. Treatment is very difficult to access
through mainstream NHS provision and as such a greater emphasis
needs to be placed upon integrated working between work focused
programmes and front line health care professionals. Some employment
programmes have been adept at addressing the needs of clients
with mental health problems however much more could be done to
ensure that health professionals are able to recognise the benefits
of working with employment programmes as standard practice.
Does the Condition Management Programme Provide
the Right Level of Support?
Again we believe it is too early to be certain
with regards to the Pathways Pilots. There is some anecdotal evidence
that the Condition Management Programme (CMT) is not meeting individual
needs and is based purely on what is available within the established
process. More research is required into the impact to date of
CMT and the steps required to improve the benefits of this approach.
Has Pathways Successfully Worked with Healthcare
Professionals, Including GP's, Particularly in Rehabilitation
Initiatives such as the Condition Management Programme? How can
Healthcare Professionals be Further Engaged in the Reform Programme
of the Incapacity Benefits System?
The objective of Pathways is to successfully
integrate service provision across the Welfare to Work and healthcare
sector. Traditionally these sectors have had distinct strategic
objectives. Our experience of engaging health professionals through
our Working Neighbourhood Pilots in Tower Hamlets and the Gorbals
has demonstrated the need for more mutual understanding between
the different sectors and agencies. It is clear that there are
excellent examples of effective working between the sectors however
recent quotes from the BMA have indicated a reluctance to fully
engage in this process for fear of compromising the patient/doctor
relationship and also due to an anticipated increased workload.
More effort is required to demonstrate the benefits to the health
system of work-focused programmes for current IB recipients without
expecting increased activity on their part at this time.
Is Jobcentre Plus Sufficiently Resourced to Deliver
the Pathways Pilots, both in Terms of Staffing and Finances? Are
they Equipped to deal with a Reform Programme for Incapacity Benefit?
Jobcentre Plus has demonstrated its ability
to resource the initial pilots however we do not believe that
it has either sufficient staffing or financial resources to implement
the programme on a national basis. It is our view that Jobcentre
Plus is only capableat mostof dealing with Work
Focused Interviews (WFI) and referrals to partner organisations
within a reformed programme for Incapacity Benefit and that it
should not be expected to deal with anything more than this given
current/ future resource limitations. Best value results will
be delivered through contracting with a range of providers in
the independent (voluntary and private) sector. Indeed the independent
sector has the capability to deliver on the WFI element of the
programme thereby ensuring more effective use of Jobcentre Plus
What has been the Effect of the Efficiencies Agenda?
The efficiencies agenda has resulted in a scenario
where it is virtually impossible to deliver Pathways to Work in
house on a national basis, without having a dramatic negative
impact on other policy priorities. We are convinced however that
this agenda offers the potential for all those involved in Welfare
to Work programmes to work smarter in order to deliver success
for the clients we all aim to help, rather than simply throw money
at a solution which may not always be appropriate.
What has been the Effect of the Pathways Pilots
on Existing Programmes and Support, such as the New Deal for Disabled
People and Work Based-Learning for Adults?
Some of the early research has shown these programmes
to be competing for the same client group rather than maximising
the synergies that potentially exist to take people from where
they currently are towards sustainable employment. It is critical
that pathways is targeted at the right client group and that it
maximises the synergies of more cost effective programmes in helping
place current IB clients back into employment where employment
is the most appropriate solution for the individual.
How do Personal Advisors work in Collaboration
with Other Jobcentre Plus Staff such as Disability Employment
Advisers and Job Brokers?
From the initial pilots it is difficult to make
an informed judgement about this. Further research on a larger
scale is needed to come to a informed opinion. Initial findings
would again suggest that local variations exist and will be dependent
on the existing relationships and synergies. Anecdotally, the
pilot in East Renfrewshire has shown some friction between Jobcentre
Plus Advisers and NDDP job brokers. This could be resolved if
more clarification and guidance, stipulating the role of voluntary
and private sector was given.
Have the Private Sector and Voluntary Sectors
been Successfully Involved in the Pathways Pilots? How can they
be Further Involved in the Reform of Incapacity Benefits?
Although the Chancellors Budget clearly stated
that the voluntary and private sector would play an integral role
in the delivery of Pathways, this has clearly not been the case
to date. Within the independent sector there exists sufficient
capacity for the sector to conduct the Work Focused Interview
elements of Pathways. Additionally significant benefits could
be gained by greater involvement of the private and voluntary
sectors to compare value for money outcomes and bring greater
innovation to the development of solutions for the client group.
As things stand, a clearer definition of what
the role of the private and voluntary sector entails is required.
In addition, a clear framework needs to be formulated to specify
how each sector would interact with each other and work in partnership
to achieve the communal goals outlined by the Government. At present,
partnerships are defined at a local level and fit in to the existing
framework of provision and the current political landscape. All
indications are that the bulk of resources are being utilised
either in house at Jobcentre Plus or via the NHS, with the voluntary
and private sector contributing purely on the fringes. We are
convinced that this is a missed opportunity in terms of delivering
enhanced sustainable outcomes for the participants.
The private sector can be an important component
in this process by delivering provision and brokering employment.
For many clients, the major obstacle to employment is mental health.
This predominantly concerns low levels of self-esteem and confidence.
Reed in Partnership already delivers a comprehensive package of
support to clients participating in all of our 12 Action Team
for Jobs located across the UK. Our experiences in London, Liverpool,
Middlesbrough, Doncaster and Glasgow show that using intensive
capacity building one to one interventions can make a positive
difference, eventually leading to lifestyle stabilisation and
progression to employment.
Evidence gathered through New Deal indicates
that Jobcentre Plus Advisers do not have sufficient time or autonomy
to make the interventions required to progress clients towards
the labour market.
As previously referred to, we are convinced
that mandatory or voluntary programmes for new referrals on to
a revised IB, based around the principles of Action Team programmes
can deliver better value outcomes for a significant number of
participantswithout the need for the more expensive Pathways
What Type of Jobs are Participants of Pathways
Moving into? Are they Receiving Appropriate In-Work Support to
Enhance Job Retention?
Our own understanding of the Pathways to Work
pilots has shown that clients participating on Pathways are accessing
employment opportunities in a diverse range of sectors. This will
be dependent upon the economic mix of the local area and the flexibility
of working practices they adopt.
In-work support varies considerably and is dependent
upon a number of local variables including local provision and
the calibre of Jobcentre Plus Advisers. Initial research has shown
that both these variables vary considerably across regions, although
more research is needed to fully substantiate this.
Are Local Labour Markets Able to Provide the Jobs
As things currently stand, in the long term
the answer is no. However, in the short to medium term the answer
is clearly yes.
As previously mentioned where employment opportunities
are greatest, predominantly in the South East, IB levels are at
Our experience of working with IB clients in
the North and Scotland has shown that there is still significant
scope to work with large numbers of IB clients to help them gain
sustainable employment purely by focusing on overcoming their
barriers and building their potential to gain employment amongst
existing vacancies over the next five year period. However, in
the longer term if we are to achieve IB levels in the North, Wales
and Scotland more comparable with those in the South then it is
essential that greater effort be focused on creating new employment
opportunities in these areas.
It is imperative therefore that wider government
policy focuses on delivering new employment in these locations
in parallel with a continued focus on preparing IB clients for
existing employment opportunities.
What is the Experience of Employers?
In our experience employers are not concerned
where their supply of labour originates from. The most important
factor is they are equipped with the necessary skills and personal
attributes to carry out the job effectively or indeed simply the
ability to be trained to do so. Within certain sectors this criteria
can be very simple and basic. Pre-requisite skills and attributes
include presentation, positive attitude, ability to do the work
and/or willingness to learn and reliability. Reliance on those
businesses with a greater sense of corporate social responsibility
may have enabled the pilots to get off to a good start in terms
of positive outcomes however as a mainstream solution it is imperative
that any programme working with IB recipients enables them to
be ready for work when the walk through the employers door.
27 DWP Report 1998. Back