Memorandum submitted by A4e
A4e welcomes this opportunity to contribute
to the evolving policy for Incapacity Benefit Reform. Over the
last year we have provided training and employment services to
4,950 disabled clients and helped 1,840 clients back into work.
A4e has built considerable expertise in delivering client-centred
provision through our delivery of over 260 welfare to work related
contracts on behalf DWP and Jobcentre Plus, across 90 delivery
centres from Edinburgh to Exeter, Our philosophy is that work
provides opportunities for personal and professional development,
and that it is a partnership between individual, employer and
Our portfolio includes a number of programmes
geared specifically to the IB claimant cohort, including previous
delivery of the ONE PVS pilot in North Cheshire, a current national
NDDP provision, and a specific induction course as part of the
IB Reform Pilot in Greenock in Scotland, as well as pilots for
Over the last three years we have been specifically
researching and piloting approaches through our existing programmes
to develop an effective delivery methodology for working with
this particular client group. This has been a deliberate strategic
approach, pre-empting the trend in unemployment decline and in
anticipation of the emerging requirements of the economically
inactive. This includes developing expert provision through our
Jobcentre Plus LOT, BET and SIBS contracts to specifically target
this client cohort. In addition we are also working closely with
other Government Departments and local authorities to ensure that
we link provision to associated reforms in the marketplace, Local
Enterprise Grant Initiatives and Direct Payment for Social Care,
that impact on our clients lives.
Through this experience and strategic intent,
A4e has evolved a bespoke series of principles to underpin employability
programmes for IB claimants, namely:
To customise programmes for
the individualessential for this client group.
To provide a meaningful choice
through a portfolio of options.
To bring in employers at the
To enable informed participation.
To deliver hard targeted outputs
(supplier) with light touch on the customer.
On the basis of our experience and principles,
A4e offers the enclosed observations on the PtW pilots. We would
welcome the opportunity to meet with you to share more in depth
views and dialogue on the IB reform agenda, and continue to actively
contribute to this consultation agenda, building from our established
experience in this arena. We strongly believe that the IB programme
must not be viewed in isolation but must be part of a coherent
programme that links welfare to work, enterprise creation and
workforce development. As such, we pride ourselves in effectively
working across all these areas.
An overview of our achievements over the last
worked with over 50,000 unemployed
people across the United Kingdom who participated in our back
to work programmes;
helped 11,000 people secure
work through A4e's Back to Work programmes;
helped one of our clients into
a job every 10 minutes;
created 300 new jobs through
its own growth and development;
created 1,500 jobs through our
Business Link services;
provided on-line learning opportunities
to over 15,000 learners across the United Kingdom;
provided financial support to
over 5,000 people through the A4e Discretionary Fund that funds
the purchase of suits, spectacles, mopeds and other items that
can help our clients back into employment;
provided training and employment
services to 4,950 disabled clients and helped 1,840 clients back
delivered services in 250 of
the most disadvantaged wards in the country through its network
of offices and outreach services;
managed workforce development
and business support contracts, working with 500 providers to
deliver multimillion pound business on behalf of the public sector;
provided business support training
and capacity building to over 16,000 childcare providers nationally;
managed over £200 million
of public sector funding on behalf of a range of Government agencies;
helped black and minority ethnic
voluntary and community organisations secure over £1 million
of lottery funding as well as providing capacity building services
to over 1,000 voluntary/community sector and social enterprise
worked with over 10,000 voluntary
and community organisations to provide support, work experience,
employment and training to;
worked with over 65,000 small
and medium sized businesses people across the United Kingdom across
the United Kingdom; and
created or supported 15,000
businesses through our business support programmes.
Spacing of interventions
In A4e's experience, the most successful interventions
are those that provide structure to clients, building rapport
with those delivering the intervention, and introducing them to
a pattern of regularity that they should expect in work.
Whilst a minimum contact frequency could be
specified, any solution should provide flexibility to facilitate
as much or as little support to help each individual client recognize
their unique employability barriers, and implement practical steps
to address these where this is possible.
This keeping pace with the customer approach
reflects our experience and research, emphasizing the need for
flexibility according to each individuals needs. On non-JSA benefits,
especially IB (and especially with stock) you deal with a wide
variety of issues. As such there needs to be flexibility over
the interventions, and minimum time frames are an essential "back
However, support needs to be delivered at the
client's pace and then built up (if slow) or maximise it (if quick).
This is essential as it enables the barriers that need to be overcome
to be identified in a collaborative manner.
In the main, a minimum frequency of monthly
contact should be appropriate for most IB claimants. This would
give JCP staff appropriate regularity to make in-roads into employability
barriers, whilst at the same time facilitating an unthreatening
regime for long-term claimants who might otherwise feel unduly
intimidated by the pilot approach.
Mandatory action plans
A4e endorses the policy of mandatory action
plans as part of the WFI process, and supports DWP.s view that
such documents will help focus discussion between PAs and customers.
Whilst we absolutely endorse a work first approach, we know from
four years of experience in delivering ONE that the key to engagement
is not hitting the client hard on "process" and work
first activity. Engagement with the voluntary and community sector
to support and resolve client barriers is essential. Aggressive
"mandatory action planning" with a "work focus"
will alienate the stakeholders and scare a proportion of the clients.
Any action planning approach must be clearly
explained to, and be understood by, claimants to avoid potential
fears and suspicions over such an approach. This could be best
achieved by applying a differentiated action planning approach,
geared to individual employability and welfare barriers.
This may require perhaps less abrasive semantics,
replacing the term action plan with life plan, support plan. or
similar, to help achieve claimant buy in underlining that this
is not a work at all costs approach. The approach must look at
the available support structures, examine barriers, discuss options
and tease out aspirationsmaking clients think about self-improvement,
training, and barrier busting. A work-focused approach can then
be built from this starting pointengaging more clients
and creating ownership.
Those with less severe, and ultimately addressable,
barriers should expect a more intensive support planning approach
to move them into work. Those with more severe incapacities, for
who work may not realistically be an option, should face a less
intensive approach, which may focus on ensuring they are receiving
the full and correct entitlement for their condition and signposting
them to support from the vol/com sector that may aid their long-term
Although mandatory participation is being applied
in respect to certain elements of IB reform (eg application of
sanctions in pilot areas) this should not be the automatic starting
point for client engagement. The key issue is what is made mandatory
and with whom. A mandatory discussion with an adviser about next
steps in personal progression is all that is neededthe
skill with the adviser (or delivery intermediary) is to convert
this into meaningful outcomes. This is absolutely achievable,
but only where a mixed economy of provision is available that
creates a climate of work enthusiasm. Such an approach must not
only engage those already enthused to get back into work, but
also the mainstay of clients who must be engaged if IB reform
is to be viewed as a true success.
As a final point, DWP must ensure that any action
planning/participation approach does not turn IB reform into a
mere funding issue for IBPAs managing their caseloads. This will
kill the initiative and prevent ultimate success.
Content of safeguards
The parameters of content should be the same
for both stock and flow clients. If an effective model is established,
then it should have the potential for the same impact levels on
any client group. This will, nevertheless, necessitate a means
to drive continuous improvement and innovation in design moving
forward, enabling it to continuously sharpen its teeth in terms
of its suitability and effectiveness in this regard. As part of
this, the process design should be geared to ensure IBPA push
forward clients with genuine employment potential, rather than
looking to ring-fence. their caseload at an optimum level (a teething
problem that A4e has experienced on its own IB pilot, where IBPAs
have been hesitant in making referrals).
At the same time the content of the interview
should also include appropriate safeguards for those for whom
work is not a realistic option ensuring they are not being coerced
into work preparation activity that is detrimental to their health
or beyond their capabilities. There should be a subtle differentiation
of approach between stock and flow, with an alternate engagement
process for the former is required with a better process for exploring
the client's background and understanding their circumstances.
As part of this the current initial model needs
to be considered. This effectively separates claimants into three
categories; those clearly capable of work, those clearly not capable
of work, and those for whom such a judgement cannot be made until
future activity has taken place. This simplification may be stark,
but serves to highlight how easy it can be to mis-classify a claimant
at an early stage. As we cannot be certain from limited working
with a client, it is important to emphasis the distance traveled
or each individual.
Building on this, A4e would advocate a pilot
approach to externally contracting the WFI and IBPA role in combination.
From experience, the culture and ethos of Jobcentre Plus at a
grass roots level is sometimes not the most conducive structure
for driving intervention regimes (as previously indicated), and
to replicate the same approaches as taken with flow and mainstream
JSA clients will simply not work. The output based New Deal PSL,
ONE and Employment Zone models are arguably all more effective,
with providers managing both the advisory caseload and providing
the interventions. Such providers (in an IB context) must be able
to demonstrate on an auditable basis that they can work in the
process environment of JCO advisory interviews, with a track record
of managing risky funding such as EZ, ONE and PSL. Building on
this, A4e would wish to see the total process competitively tendered
on a pilot basis and tested against an internal model. To effectively
hit stock targets you will need a mixed economy with public, private
and the vol/com sector blending their talent to impact on client
We believe this is the most effective way to
achieving significant gains in the short to mid term.
The points above link back again to the issue
of safeguards. This initiative needs to be developed with trusted
partners. From our experience, the voluntary and community sector
are key partners because so many services and networks that the
client is dependent on are based here. It is the massive non-funded
support structure that Government accepts and that IB policy is
reliant upon. If this approach is mishandled, and the perception
of the vol/com sector is that a work first/client exploitation
model is being perused, then the policy may be less effective.
A4e would be keen to share best practice from
its own ONE PVS pilot in North Cheshire with regard to WFI models.
Through this pilot A4e evolved its own WFI approach that engaged
over 2,000 non-JSA clients on voluntary basis, engaging over 90%
of the cohort and exceeding demanding jobs targets by 5% over
the term of the contract.
Job preparation premium
A4e views the suggestion of a maximum 26 week
JPP, split into two 13 week, as sensible and in keeping with other
Jobcentre Plus intervention models. A regime focused around work
focused action plan support and achievement will further support
this. The range of interventions suggested by Jobcentre Plus attracting
JPP payments will provide a useful tool-box of support measures
for IB clients. That said, A4e would question whether a predominantly
mainstream package of interventions will truly challenge the diverse
aspirations of the IB cohort. WBLA and Programme Centre provision
can arguably be viewed in this context (eg is this really appropriate
for an ex- management/professional IB claimant?). Similarly, NDDP,
Work Preparation, Workstep and Condition Management programmes
are already targeting IB clients, and are thus unlikely to deliver
the performance step-change above the credible results that these
programmes already contribute.
A4e would prefer to see a more progressive role
out of IB specific initiatives, such as the Working Neighbourhood
Pilots being delivered by private EZ contractors, as well as the
bespoke IB provision that has already been put in place in existing
Pathway to Work areas. Programmes that are specifically geared
to the needs of IB claimants themselves must surely stand a better
chance of delivering greater outcomes.
A further option to consider would be a relaxation
of IB regulations that relate to self-employment, to offer this
type of programme that may be appropriate for many IB claimants
who are currently precluded from test-trading activity.
Clearly, with any intervention route taken,
a balance will ultimately need to be struck between the rigor
and amenability of monitoring regimes. The use of established
interventions is already governed by established monitoring arrangements,
and there is no discernable reason why these shouldn't be as amenable
to IB claimants as to other Jobcentre Plus client groups. A discernable
degree of rigor is appropriate, and should be expected by all
The needs of IB clients must, however, be taken
into account through any monitoring regime, but this does not
mean that standards and rigor should be compromised. It should
mean that monitoring standards are applied in such a way that
best engage IB claimants in work-focused activity without disengaging
them or tying them in needless bureaucracy. Again, this would
suggest a broader deployment of IB specific interventions that
can be tailored to client need, rather than potentially clumsy
attempts at fitting clients to existing and potentially unsuitable
Such an approach can best be facilitated, as
already stated, by not linking funding to action plans and progressions.
Funding should instead be on a per client basis, linked to agreed
outcome volumes, leaving Jobcentre Plus and its suppliers to get
on and deliver and evidence client progression. For example, a
New Deal PSL or EZ output model coupled with a base line management
fee would leave freedom for innovation and a light touch, whilst
maintaining audit probity and monitoring integrity. This would
remove the risks of a light- touch approach (which is absolutely
necessary), which might otherwise dilute the work enthusiasm message,
and create a double-standard perception to other Jobcentre Plus
A4e works with many employers, both corporate
and SMEs, who understand their role within the Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) agenda. However there is still a reticence
among much of the employer base to engage people in the IB category
as they believe there is a higher cost in relation to support
staff, infrastructure and accessibility, as well as potential
loss of time and productivity. Not only do these views need challenging
in a centralized way (public information and marketing) but there
is a case for providing an incentive scheme that rewards those
employers that can demonstrate their commitment to local and national
Public sector as demonstrator of best practice
The public sector, national, regional and local,
has an important part to play as both regulator and employer.
As such there is an excellent opportunity to develop innovative
recruitment and retention programmes in relation to IB. The public
sector could provide the lead for the private sector by demonstrating
that there are effective ways on engagement that work by maximizing
the talent within our community, and that by overlooking clients
due to their incapacity means that they overlook the skills which
other competitors will benefit from.
Similarly there are key reforms taking place
within the health sector, local government and central government
such as LEGI, direct payment social care, decentralization of
Government departments, OGC procurement criteria etc that provide
an excellent opportunity for linked up approaches to sustainable
solutions to IB issues.
There are two issues that would support the
IB reform programme.
Firstly it would be the appropriate training
of all staff to understand the issues related to IB, and the appropriate
methods in dealing sensitively and appropriate identification
Secondly we believe there is much scope for
improving the certification of incapacity as such either through
working with healthcare professionals in and alongside their facilities,
or even by the introduction of a specialist certification programme
by non-medical healthcare professionals. As such we would welcome
involvement within any pilots as recommended this year in a DWP
commissioned report entitled. The potential for certification
of incapacity for work by non-medical healthcare professionals.
(DWP225) by Karen Niven.
What lessons can be learned from the PtW pilots
in shaping the direction of the reform of IBs?
Job outcomes for people on IB
statistically, in pilot areas, claimants are twice as likely to
gain employment. This is a testament to improved communication
of available help to claimants, as well as the more obvious financial
supplement of £40 per week for 52 weeks for people moving
into jobs that pay less than £15,000 per annum a significant
cushion for the transition period from benefits to salary.
The pilots promoted an increased
liaison between JCP and healthcare professionals. The vehicle
was provided by the introduction of condition management programmes,
but the primary gain has been an improved understanding of the
therapeutic benefits of employment and an increased readiness
for healthcare professionals to encourage claimants to consider
employment options rather than taking the continued sick-note
Probably the most important
advancement to have come out of the PtW pilots is the affirmation
that claimants need a truly individual supportive service rather
than a generalised assumptive catch all. support programme.
During the early months of the
PtW pilots, most areas were slow to show a significant improvement
in claimant activity and job outcomes. This was mainly due to
a lack of investment in the early recruitment and training of
IB Personal Advisors many not being in post until the actual go-live
date. Some of the later pilots (eg Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster
District, not scheduled to enter the pilot arena until April 2006)
have secured additional, early impact funding to enable them to
recruit and train IBPAs well in advance of the commencement of
the pilot and have also allowed them to deliver a programme of
awareness raising sessions for healthcare partners.
High job retention rates within
PtW pilot areas and, indeed, NDDP generally, are the result of
carefully planned in-work support packages, agreed, whenever possible,
before the claimant commences their employment. This must continue
to be a key feature in future IB reforms in order to provide the
claimant with a steadily decreasing ramp of planned support, rather
than a sudden drop from intense support to no support.
What are the Implications of DWP.s Proposals
for the New Structure of IB. Do they Address the Complications
Inherent in the Existing IB System? Is a Dual Benefit the Right
Approach? Could it be Improved?
Main benefit of reforms will
be around raising the awareness of claimants that, in the majority
of cases, IB is not for life. Many claimants, who do not have
natural contact with JCP are unaware of what help to return to
work is available to them the necessity to choose an option of
inactivity or planned and financially supplemented activity will
automatically provide this vital awareness through enforced contact
with JCP or its agents.
The introduction of a dual benefit
system will provide a notable increase in job outcomes, not dissimilar
to the increases seen through supplemented mainstream New Deal
and WBLA programmes in recent years. However, in the case of IB,
robust processes must be in place to ensure that people with severe
levels of sickness and disability are not disadvantaged are caused
Work activity programmes will
need to be flexible and wide-ranging, and will need to be claimant-led
and recognise that many people will have to address numerous personal
barriers (disability-related, attitudinal, confidence-based, etc)
before they are ready to move onto general Jobsearch-related activities.
There will need to be an easily
accessible transfer route between benefit categories for claimants
who are no longer able to continue their planned employment activity
due to a deterioration of their condition or, in fact, for people
who wish to move from inactivity to planned activity.
Will the Reforms Help to Improve Work Incentives
for Sick and Disabled People?
Certainly, providing that benefit
limits for claimants choosing to agree to a programme of planned
employment-related activity are set above current inactive rates
and not at current rates, with those choosing to continue to be
inactive being subjected to a reduced level of benefit.
The two most common concerns
demonstrated by IB claimants are, "How will working affect
my benefits?" and "What will happen if the work fails?"
These concerns must be effectively addressed for people to be
sufficiently motivated to embrace employment opportunities. The
first concern can be resolved by ensuring a clear process for
claimants to gain easy access to accurate in-work benefit calculations.
The second concern demands a review of the 52-week Linking Rule.
Currently, the rule is little known to claimants and the process
for taking advantage of the rule is confusing and onerous. Ideally,
access to the rule would be automatic when starting in full-time
employment has been confirmed.
Is it Possible to Distinguish Between Those
who are Able to Return to Work and Those who Cannot?
Firstly, there must be clear
guidelines for benefits advisors to be able to easily categorise
those claimants for whom work is not an option due to the severity
of their disability or illness. All efforts must be made to minimise
distress caused by error or inflexible categorisation procedures
The more significant challenge
will be to distinguish between those who are able and wish to
return to work and those who are able but do not wish to return
to work. This is where a clear policy decision will need to be
made in so far as how much pressure will be put on people who
are unreasonably (when measured against objective indicators)
unwilling to participate in planned employment-type activity.
Possibly, in the early years of the reforms, self-motivated activity
levels will be sufficiently high so that undue pressure will not
be necessary. However, as IB numbers decline and the harder to
accept help cohort is more prominent, a more mandatory approach
could be introduced with a greatly reduced risk of public outcry.
This again would be analogous to the development of mainstream
employment programmes . from .voluntary. (Employment Training,
Employment Action, etc) to mandatory (New Deal ETF/VS, Gateway
to Work, etc).
What are the Implications of the Reforms on
Levels of Fraud and Error?
Some error is inevitable, but
must be minimised through robust processes. Any errors resulting
in significant claimant distress will receive high profile attention
and may disrupt, if not damage, the reform strategy.
With more people moving from
benefits to work, fraud should be reduced. However, there will
need to be a robust process for regular activity plan monitoring
and review to ensure that people who receive the higher level
of benefit do so legitimately. The New Deal/WBLA provider network
has significant experience in personal plan monitoring, review
and management and has the capacity to effectively respond to
the high volume demand that will be generated.
Will the Reforms Address the Main Areas of Concern
with the Current System?
One of the main concerns is
around a lack of distinction between diverse levels of sickness/disability
in relation to IB payment levels. Although this is partially addressed
through Disability Living Allowance and Income Support, many people
would like to see a tiered benefit system that recognises these
diverse levels the reforms do not appear to address this concern.
The experience of sick and disabled
Including: the experience of those who have
taken part in different aspects of the PtW pilots; barriers in
accessing support offered through PtW; awareness of the support
available; and views on further reform.
The major barrier to accessing
support is a lack of effective communication. Despite intervention
through work-focussed interviews, many claimants are still unaware
of the scope of the help and support that is available to them.
Reforming the aim of the target group to include stock as well
as flow will partially address the barrier, but it is communication
beyond the limited timescale of the work-focussed interview that
is crucial. Although some PtW pilot areas have local contracts
designed to inform and motivate claimants through short courses,
these are under-utilised due to a lack of referrals from IBPAs.
These essential interventions need to be embraced by JCP as an
integral part of the back to work process.
There are inconsistencies across
pilot areas with regard to claimants accessing Advisor Discretionary
Funds and Access to Work. This must be addressed across all PtW
areas if claimant expectations are to be met.
Are People with Different Disabilities and Health
Conditions, in both Pilot and Non-Pilot Areas, Given Appropriate
Support by JCP? Is there a Tendency to Help Those Perceived as
Closer to the Labour Market?
There does not seem to be a
tendency to help those perceived as closer to the labour market.
JCP has worked closely with the NDDP job broker network to ensure
that all participants receive appropriate support. An unwritten
code of practice has evolved in which, in most JCP districts,
job brokers tend to work predominantly with participants who are
closer, if not necessarily close, to the labour market, while
JCP DEAs and IBPAs tend to work with participants who demonstrate
longer-term barriers to employment.
How will the Reforms Help Those who are not
Able, or not yet Ready, to Work?
Those claimants who are not
able or ready to work will gain significant benefit from the Choices
aspect of PtW. Access to condition management programmes (CRPs)
will, in many cases, help claimants to review disability and sickness-related
barriers and develop strategies to overcome the barriers. Conversely,
in a minority of cases, it will provide confirmation that work-related
activity is not a good option at that time.
Providing the reforms promote
a truly individual service, people at all levels of employment
readiness will benefit from agreeing a realistic and carefully
targeted activity plan the key is to emphasise individual need
and to make no assumptions.
Support for sick and disabled people to move back
Can the reformed systems support those with
variable and manageable health conditions, or those who are able
to work part-time? Are those with mental health difficulties adequately
In the majority of cases, IB
claimants identified barriers to work relate less to the claimants
current level of disability and more to barriers that have been
created by the customers disability ie many customers have developed
strategies to effectively handle their disability, but are still
left with barriers such as age (a high percentage of NDDP customers
are over 50 years of age), long-term employment inactivity, out-of-date
skills, low self-esteem, a need to change job route, etc. A recent
survey indicated that when asked about perceived barriers to employment,
40% of people in receipt of IB did not mention their disability
as a barrier. Whilst disability and sickness-related barriers
must be addressed, they should not dominate support provision.
Does the Condition Management Programme (CMP)
Provide the Right Level of Support?
Yes, in most cases. However,
the level of support in different areas needs to be more consistent
effective support should not be the result of a geographical lottery.
Involvement of Healthcare Professionals
Has PtW successfully worked with professionals,
including GPs, particularly in rehabilitation initiatives such
as the CMP? How can healthcare professionals be further engaged
in the reform of the IB system?
There is a lack of effective
engagement of healthcare professionals outside of the CMP initiative.
GPs in particular need to embrace the concept of employment is
good for you. This again relates to communication. In preparation
for their inclusion in the PtW pilot programme, JCP in the Barnsley,
Rotherham and Doncaster district have been proactive in planning
to deliver employment-related awareness training for GPs and other
key healthcare professionals. As literally the front-line in the
claimant experience, it is crucial to the success of IB reforms
that they are fully embraced by healthcare professionals.
We would very much welcome involvement in pilots
as recommended by DWP report 225 .The potential for certification
of incapacity for work by non medical healthcare professionals
produced by Karen Niven. There are some excellent examples where
the development of a bespoke programme, working with but outside
the healthcare professional can bring about more effective resource
allocations for both IB clients and mainstream health clients.
Is JCP sufficiently resourced to deliver the
PtW pilots, both in terms of staffing and finances? Are they equipped
to deal with a reform programme for IB?
JCP need to engage diverse partners
if they are to successfully deal with the reform programme for
IB. JCP does not have the staffing, finances, capacity and expert
resource to deliver the programme without the collaboration of
healthcare professionals, local authorities, PCTs, specialised
support groups and independent providers.
Existing employment initiatives
What has been the effect of the PtW pilots on
existing programmes and support, such as the NDDP and WBLA?
Five times as many people in
PtW pilot areas are accessing NDDP. This was contributing factor
to the significant overspend by many NDDP Job Brokers in the 2004-05
contract year. The increased number of pilot areas needs to be
taken into account in the NDDP funding allocation for 2006-07.
As NDDP customers can also simultaneously
access WBLA, there has been a steady increase inprogramme starts.
However, as WBLA funding has reduced, this vital facility has
all but disappeared.
Peripheral supportive programmes must be adequately
funded for IB reforms to succeed. WBLA is an important part of
the claimant offer.
How do Personal Advisors Work in Collaboration
with Other JCP Staff such as DEAs and with Job Brokers?
IBPAs work closely with Job
Brokers, NDDP being the prime offer to IB claimants.
The role of the private and voluntary sector
Have the private and voluntary sectors been
successfully involved in the PtW pilots? How can they be further
involved in the reform of IBs?
The private and voluntary sectors
are not sufficiently involved in the PtW pilot areas. Opportunities
to engage, inform, motivate and progress claimants are being missed.
Funding needs to be made available
to the private and voluntary sectors so that they can bring diverse
expertise and innovative delivery methodologies into play to help
to achieve the Governments IB reform aspirations.
Partnerships with the private
and voluntary sectors need to be diligently pursued. Diverse funding
opportunities, European, local and national, could be explored
by such partnerships and significant additionality could be introduced.
Local labour markets
What type of jobs are PtW participants moving
into? Are they receiving appropriate in-work support to enhance
As participants are from diverse
backgrounds, disability and sickness not discriminating between
social and academic groups, jobs tend to be wide ranging, from
management to operative levels.
Many participants are effectively
supported in the first six months of their employment, and this
is borne out by the relatively high retention rates enjoyed by
NDDP and the PtW pilot areas generally. However, in some cases,
the support has been diluted to a form of tracking for retention-based
outcome payments and/or credits. More emphasis needs to be placed
on the provision of planned in-work support for up to 12 months,
Are Local Labour Markets Able to Provide the
In most areas, jobs do not seem
to be a problem it is participant engagement that is the issue.
What is the Experience of Employers?
The employer experience differs
widely. Some have an excellent relationship with Job Brokers and
JCP, and contribute fully to the progress of participants. Others,
however, are totally unaware of the IB reform agenda and accompanying
support mechanisms some, also demonstrating a serious lack of
knowledge with regard to disabled people and the DDA.
As an important part of the
reform agenda, employers need to be enthusiastically targeted
to dispel mal-informed beliefs and to raise their awareness of
the significant potential of the IB cohort. Employer engagement
must be a distinct part of future IB reform strategies.
3 October 2005