Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Remploy

REMPLOY LIMITED

  1.  Remploy is a Non-Departmental Public Body working for the Department of Work and Pensions to help people with all kinds of disabilities and health conditions to find and keep work. Each year we support over 10,000 disabled people in this way both through our job-broking Interwork services across the UK and also through our network of 82 factories.

  2.  We are the largest provider of the Government's Workstep programme and also one of the biggest providers of New Deal for Disabled People.

OUR TRACK RECORD

  3.  In the last few years we have continuously increased the numbers of people we have helped into work and also the numbers of people we have helped to progress into open, unsupported employment:


Job Entries
NDDP
  
Workstep
Total

Progressions
to open
employment
2002-03
308
1,434
1,742 1,610
2003-04
1,042
1,323
2,375 1,417
2004-05
1,146
2,415
3,561 1,683


  4.  In 2005-06 we will to help over 4,600 people into work and help an additional 1,800 progress to unsupported employment.

  5.  Through our Interwork business we have been able to achieve this at an average cost of £3.5k per person placed into a job with a mainstream employer. The cost of supporting our factory employees is much higher, at an annual cost of around £18k per person.

  6. We fully support the Government's initiative to help more people access work through the Pathways to Work initiative. We want to play a major role in giving people the opportunity to re-engage with society and making Pathways more effective for those clients with the higher support needs. There are so many people on Incapacity Benefit at present that the Pathways to Work pilots are only able to scrape at the surface, and this often means that only those with the least support needs receive help. There is an opportunity to support many more people with more complex needs if the right service can be offered to them.

REMPLOY FULLY SUPPORTS THE PRINCIPALS AND PURPOSE OF THE PATHWAYS TO WORK PILOTS

  7.  There are over one million people on Incapacity Benefit who want to work and would be able to work with the right help and support. The initial successes of the pilots are indicative of what can be done when this group of people is engaged in job focussed activity.

  8.  However, we believe that those with the most support needs could be helped by making better use of existing provision. The Workstep programme, delivered as a flexible programme of pre- and post-employment support in mainstream employment would enable more people to enter, and remain in work from the Pathways to Work pilots and provide a base for future achievement as part of the IB reforms.

NOT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO COULD BENEFIT FROM THE PILOT ARE GETTING THE SUPPORT THEY NEED

Are People with different disabilities and health conditions, in both pilot and non-pilot areas, given appropriate support by Jobcentre Plus?

  9.  Remploy believes that the majority of people being supported by the Pathways to Work pilots are those who are closest to the labour market and who are making a recent claim to Incapacity Benefit. Evidence from DWP research report 278 Incapacity Benefit Reforms—The personal adviser role and practices:

    Stage Two states:

    "Job entry targets could influence IBPAs (Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers) increasingly" to prioritise customers likely to give a quick win, above those needing longer term support to return to work.

  10.  This is understandable given the large volumes of people on Incapacity Benefit coming through the pilots and the pressures on Jobcentre Plus to deliver within an ever-tighter resource constraint. (The above report puts caseload levels for IB Personal Advisers at up to 60 people each.)

  11.  Many people on Incapacity Benefit need more intensive support both to help them secure employment and to retain it and the options available to IB Personal Advisers do not allow for this (with the exception of one pilot area in Wales) as they are unable to refer an individual to Workstep which could provide that level of support.

  12.  We believe that a service offering more intensive pre and post employment support can help both individuals and employers to overcome health and disability related barriers. This includes those with more complex barriers which IB Personal Advisers are currently inclined to screen out or defer in preference of concentrating on the easier to help customers. IBPA role Stage 2.

  13.  There are a number of individuals missing out from receiving real job broking support because they are perceived as being at too great a distance "Some concerns were expressed about the potential misuse of discretion around waivers and deferrals to help" IBPAs manage heavy caseloads or to avoid prolonged contact with reluctant or "difficult" customers from the labour market.

NDDP IS AN EXPENSIVE FORM OF PROVISION FOR THE CANDIDATES IT SUPPORTS

Is there a tendency to help those perceived as closer to the labour market?

  14.  New Deal for Disabled People offers support to those deemed by the IB Personal Adviser as either job-ready or with minimal barriers to the labour market. These customers will often have a reasonable work history or have received more intensive support through other IB Personal Adviser "Choices" such as Condition Management. The funding regime, with such a concentration on job outcomes, also encourages brokers to cherry pick the easiest to help but this comes at a very high unit cost. In some cases the cost can be as much as £6,000 per sustained job outcome.

THE REFERRAL PROCESS FOR SOME INDIVIDUALS WITH MORE COMPLEX NEEDS CAN BE COMPLICATED . . .

  15.  This means that those with more complex needs are missing out from early support to help them find work. The current process for referral to support is complicated for those furthest away from the labour market. For example, a customer with a complex health condition may need initial support followed by Condition Management, followed by referral to DEA, then to Work Preparation, then NDDP or Workstep with an element of Access to Work Support. Speedier access for providers to people with more complex support needs could be enable by direct referral from IB Personal Adviser to Workstep. This would allow the provider to develop a personalised package of support, it could reduce the amount of "treading water" a customer would need to do in their journey back to work and, by earlier intervention, significantly increase the chances of a successful outcome.

  16.  Speedier access to provider support could also encourage people on Incapacity Benefit to engage in more meaningful job-search as it would overcome some of the perceived barriers of IB claimants that the work focused regime is merely another check on them by the "Benefit Police". We believe the referral process could be significantly simplified by direct referral to Remploy. A demonstration of this is given in the two suggested profiles below.


Current Process
Simplified Process

Fail Personal Capability AssessmentFail Personal Capability Assessment
Receive letter re Work focused Interview Receive letter re Work focused Interview
Receive telephone call re meeting with JC+ Receive telephone call re meeting with JC+
Meet IBPAMeet IBPA
Meet IBPAMeet IBPA
Attend 3 day Confidence Building course
Meet IBPAMeet Workstep Provider
Attend 6 week condition management programme Attend Vocational Training Programme
Meet IBPA
Meet Job BrokerAttend Job Action Groups
Meet Job BrokerGet a Job
Meet Job BrokerMeet IBPA
Meet IBPAJob Coaching support from Workstep
Meet DEAWorkstep Provider support visits
Meet Workpreparation provider Meet IBPA Open Unsupported Employment
Complete 6 week workpreparation placement
Meet DEA
Meet Workstep Provider
Attend Vocational Training Programme
Attend Job Action Groups
Get a Job
Meet IBPA
Job Coaching support from Workstep
Workstep Provider support visits
Open Unsupported Employment

REMPLOY BELIEVES WORKSTEP CAN PLAY A GREATER ROLE IN SUPPORTING IB CLAIMANTS BACK TO WORK

  17.  The purpose of Workstep is to help those with significant disability related barriers to find and sustain work. IB Personal Advisers' understanding of Workstep as a programme of support for people on Incapacity Benefit is very limited at present and often DEAs will perceive it as the last option on their list because they believe the costs are prohibitive. We have proved, through our delivery of the Workstep programme that in mainstream employment it can achieve large volumes of job entries (we helped 2,400 people last year to find a job in open employment by supporting them on Workstep) at a cost of around £3.5k per person. As stated earlier this is less costly, and more intensive, than some NDDP provision.

  18.  The support they receive includes in-depth pre employment support to overcome disability related barriers and also to prepare the employer to enable them to put in place natural supports. This is followed by tailored in-work support for a period of time between six months and indefinitely depending on the person. This has proved to be a very successful approach for us in placing people with a wide range of disabilities into work. In particular, this has proved to be a successful approach in supporting people with Learning Disabilities back into work. Over the past two years we have helped 1,686 people with Learning Disabilities into work through Workstep.

  19.  We believe that even more people could be helped into work using Workstep type support if there was greater freedom to utilise Workstep provision to support people in jobs for less than 16 hours per week. However this issue is outside of the scope of the Select Committee's considerations.

IN SUMMARY . . .

  We welcome the IB reforms and the Pathways to Work Pilots as a major step in the right direction to helping disabled people and people with health conditions back to work.

  People with more complex needs would benefit from the more substantive support offered by Workstep, delivered as a dynamic programme that helps people to progress to open employment. This would include helping more people with learning disabilities.

  Significant financial savings could be made by giving people access to this more in-depth support through direct referral from IB Personal Adviser to Workstep Provider.

THE EXPERIENCE OF SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE

  What is the Experience of those who have taken part in different aspects of the Pathways to Work pilots; what are the barriers in accessing support offered through Pathways; what is their awareness of the support available;

  To further support the Select Committee's inquiry, we have included two case studies of people we are helping in Pathways to Work Pilot areas.

Customer A

  Customer A was referred to Remploy via his IBPA, who asked our adviser to attend a meeting to discuss the customer's support needs and what programme would be best suited to him. Customer A is Autistic and likes very set routines, he receives Incapacity Benefit and was eligible for both NDDP and Workstep due to the extent of his disability.

  The IBPA and our Adviser agreed that Workstep would be the better option of the two due to the intensive support the customser would require once in work with regular monitoring and support for the employer etc.

  Our adviser arranged a face-to-face meeting with the Customer and his father, to discuss the Workstep programme in more detail. When it was realised that the programme was for 16 hours plus and that the customer would come off his benefits once in work, his father did not feel this programme was suitable as they wanted Permitted Work to allow the customer to keep his benefits for a period of up to 12 months. The customer's father was adamant that Permitted Work was what they would continue to look for due to it being a "Benefit Safety Net" if things did not work out for A whilst in work.

  Although A does require the support of Workstep, Permitted Work can only be done under NDDP; therefore we registered A on NDDP so we could look for Permitted Work, so that he can be transferred onto Workstep eventually or after the first six months of Permitted Work. This means another stage in the process before giving the customer the support he needs.

Customer B

  Customer B has been out of work for a few years, he came to Remploy via a referral from his Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisor who felt that he was not yet work ready and job search activities needed to be taken slowly. The customer felt he was work ready and eager to get back into work.

  The customer is 28 years old and has controlled Schizophrenia, he has had three nervous breakdowns, this has caused him to have low confidence and self esteem. He can become extremely nervous which results in a speech impairment. He finds it difficult to contact employers for information on a job, and would require support at interviews, he also requires a lot of support with job search activities such as CVs, cover letters and application forms. Although this support can be offered on both NDDP and Workstep, significant in work support was needed.

  Ideally when the Customer starts work, he will require a supportive employer who understands his needs especially when he is having a "bad" day and regular monitoring at his place of work (weekly/fortnightly at least to begin with). Workstep would be able to offer this support.

  When discussed with the IBPA they were keen to put the individual through NDDP because this would help them meet their own job entry targets. If the customer went on to Workstep the job entry points would be awarded to the Disability Employment Adviser. With Jobcentre Plus targets rising and numbers dwindling, all Advisors need the full job entry points. The Customer is not yet back in work.

Bob Warner

3 October 2005



 
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