Memorandum submitted by The Prince's Trust
1. In 2005-06 The Prince's Trust supported
40,805 disadvantaged young people; 75% of them moved into employment,
education or training. Despite such successful outcomes, the young
people we support continue to face problems with benefits and
many young people may not even seek our support as they fear they
may lose their benefits.
2. The Trust would support a simplification
of the benefits system which encourages young people to take part
in employment related training whilst remaining on benefits.
3. The Prince's Trust's experience is that
communication between executive agencies and claimants is inconsistent.
This will often result in young people not joining a programme
as they feel they will lose their benefits.
4. Those on Hardship Allowances to help
with food and shelter lose this allowance for the week they are
on a residential programme (details below)this can result
in them losing their accommodation, finding themselves homeless
on returning from their week away.
5. Some young people on residentials are
unable to sign-on when they are away, even though they should
be excused due to employment related training. This can affect
their ability to fully complete a course and receive qualifications.
6. There is inconsistency of advice given
to those on New Deal about recommending them for The Trust's 12
week Team programme (details below). Some young people are asked
to leave a Trust programme if, during the course of the programme,
they are transferred from Job Seekers Allowance to the New Deal.
7. Many young people wanting to set up their
own business with Prince's Trust support immediately have their
benefits stopped, therefore causing problems in the first few
months of business where income is often non-existent. In some
cases it can result in business failure and further dependence
by the individual on the benefits system.
8. The Test Trading model which allows new
business starts to remain on benefit for the first few months
of trading is extremely beneficial for disadvantaged young people
and should be more widely available, flexible and better communicated.
9. The Trust has much to offer those on
incapacity benefit, particularly those with mental health problems,
and can help them with the transition to work through practical
The Prince's Trust is a charity that believes
in young people who often don't believe in themselves. We seek
out those young people that need our help the most and work with
young people who struggle at school, are in or leaving care, are
long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. We
work with young people aged 14-30 to help them get back into work,
education and training. The charity has helped over 550,000 young
people since 1976 and continues to support 100 more every day.
In 2005-06 The Prince's Trust supported 40,805
disadvantaged young people; 75% of them moved into employment,
education or training. Young people on our programmes receive
a variety of benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Income
Support, Incapacity Benefits and Severe Disablement Allowance.
Many are also receiving Housing Benefits or a Hardship Allowance.
Many of the young people we work with are extremely
vulnerable and often have low basic skills. The complexities and
inconsistencies of the benefits system can cause serious distress
at times of instability for young people, for example when they
are leaving care or they are homeless. The Trust would support
a simplification of the system which encourages young people to
take part in programmes that help them towards employment, whilst
remaining on benefits.
There are three core Trust programmes where
young people's benefits are most likely to be affected during
the course of receiving Trust support, these are:
The Team Programme: A 12 week
personal development programme for 16-25 year olds, the majority
unemployed, to develop their confidence, motivation and skills
to help them find work. The programme is made up of various elements
including a one-week residential, a community project and work
experience. In 2005-06 8,802 took part in the programme in over
300 locations across the UK. 71% of unemployed participants find
work or enter full time education or training after completing
Get Into...: Offers unemployed
16-25 year olds an intensive training programme in a specific
sector so that they can develop practical skills and move into
employment in that area. Courses have included: Get Into Construction;
retail; customer care; cooking; rural trades and more. At the
end of the course The Trust invites possible employers for young
people to meet, then offers follow up support to enable participants
to get into a job in that sector.
The Business Programme: Offers
18-30 year olds the opportunity to set up their own business with
low interest loans, grants and mentoring support. Most are unemployed
and have been refused funding by other sources. Since 1983 The
Prince's Trust has helped over 63,000 young people set up in business.
The Prince's Trust has had a longstanding relationship
with Jobcentres, particularly in relation to our Team programme
(formerly called the Volunteers Programme). When New Deal was
run contractually, The Prince's Trust delivered New Deal contracts
in certain regions of the UK. The Prince's Trust and Jobcentre
Plus are currently developing a more formal relationship, which
we hope will enable more young people to take part in our programmes
without their benefits being affected.
1. The Prince's Trust's experience is that
communication between executive agencies, such as Jobcentre Plus,
and claimants is inconsistent. This will often result in young
people not joining a Trust programme as they feel they will lose
2. Problems arise when Jobcentre Plus employees,
including Personal Advisers, are not aware that young people's
benefits should not be affected when they participate in employment
related training programmes, such as those run by The Prince's
Trust. There is inconsistent information available to Personal
Advisers, for example some Jobcentres do not have The Prince's
Trust listed on their systems as employment related training.
3. There have been cases where young people
are advised that they will lose their benefits by taking part
in our Team programme. This can be rectified if the young person
raises this with their Prince's Trust Team Leader who can then
issue a letter referring Personal Advisers to the relevant section
of their Labour Market Conditions Guide. In some cases Team Leaders
will also visit the Personal Advisers at the Jobcentre to argue
the young person's case. However, many young people may not have
the confidence to discuss these issues and as a consequence never
take up their place on the Team programme. This is clearly an
unsatisfactory conclusion and a missed opportunity for them to
move towards finding work.
4. The Hardship Allowance is stopped when
a young person takes part in a residential (eg the second week
of the Team programme). Young people receiving the Hardship Allowance
lose their entitlement for the week they are away from home as
their food and shelter is paid for by The Trust. This can be extremely
unsettling for many young people, particularly those living in
temporary accommodation, such as hostels, as it means they may
lose their accommodation place and return from their week away
to find themselves homeless. In addition, the process required
to qualify for Hardship Allowance is lengthy and many young people
may wish to avoid having to repeat the process on return from
a residential. The potential to lose their Hardship Allowance
will often put young people off signing up to a Trust programme
and is once again a missed opportunity to take part in a course
which will help them into education, training or employment.
5. Another problem that occurs whilst a
young person is on a residential is their inability to sign-on
as they are often miles away from home. The correct process is
for the Jobcentre to excuse attendance because of employment related
training when they can be treated as available and actively seeking
work. Alternatively, some Jobcentres will allow the young person
to sign-on by post. In reality, there is inconsistency in advice
given to young people wanting to sign-on when they are away which
often causes problems for individual claimants.
On one particular Trust course"Get
Into Construction"young people need to attend all
aspects of the course in order to gain the nationally recognised
qualificationConstruction Site Certification Scheme. Where
young people leave the course to sign-on they are unable to complete
the full course and therefore may not gain the qualification.
This clearly acts as a disincentive for young people wanting to
improve their skills and qualifications.
6. There is currently inconsistency around
recommending young people on New Deal for The Trust's Team programme.
In some areas young people on New Deal are actively encouraged
to join the programme as an employment related training opportunity,
and in other areas they are advised not to.
7. Young people often experience difficulties
whilst taking part in the Team programme if they are transferring
from Job Seekers Allowance to the New Deal. There is inconsistency
of advice from Personal Advisers about continuing on The Trust's
Team programme where some young people are encouraged to complete
the 12 week programme and others are asked to leave. The current
agreement between Jobcentre Plus and The Prince's Trust is that
Team members who have reached the end of week seven will be allowed
to finish Team, however, this is often not applied and there are
examples where young people have already completed 10 weeks of
the Team programme but are still asked to withdraw.
8. Young people wanting to set up a business
with Prince's Trust support often lose their benefits when they
start setting up their business. The first few months of starting
a business can be a particularly difficult period when they may
be receiving no income from the start-up to cover living costs.
As a result of losing their benefit, many young people are forced
to take up a different job in order to survive, thereby risking
the success of their own enterprise. This can result in business
failure, thereby lengthening the young person's dependence on
the benefits system.
In some circumstances Personal Advisers are
putting pressure on young people to find work, even when they
are aware that the individual is already working with The Prince's
Trust on starting up their own business.
9. There is, however, a Test Trading model
where entrepreneurs are permitted to stay on benefits for the
first six months to "test trade" their business. This
is clearly of great benefit to disadvantaged young people and
gives them enough time to assess the viability of running their
There are, however, complications with this
system which affect families, including lone parents, who are
on Income Support. In many cases they are advised to move from
Income Support onto Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits.
Due to the complexities of the system and reporting mechanisms,
there is a perception that they will be worse off by starting
up a new business. There clearly needs to be better communication
of how the test trading model works to would-be entrepreneurs.
Businesses who are still claiming benefit are
also not entitled to other start-up support so their business
could be under-funded. There are also strict time limits on writing
a business plan and starting to test trade. In some cases young
people are not ready to start trading but are forced to do so
in order to claim this benefit. This can sometimes lead to business
10. Incapacity benefit reform: With Government
targets to move one million people off incapacity benefit (there
are currently twice as many under-25s on incapacity benefits as
on New Deal159,000 compared with 70,850)
The Trust is well positioned to assist with this target. 39% of
those on incapacity benefit have mental health or behavioural
problems, reflecting many of the young people The Trust supports.
Young people with mental health problems need in-depth, multi-agency
support, including practical personal development programmes.
Recent Prince's Trust research showed that two in five unemployed
young people were unhappy or depressed with half citing stress,
boredom and depression as the main reason for drug misuse or drinking
alcohol. Those on Prince's Trust courses, designed to improve
confidence and practical skills, were 40% more likely to be motivated
for work and, in turn, feel more responsible for their health.
The Trust clearly has a key role to play as part of the package
of support for those with mental health problems.
Better understanding about how The Trust can
prepare those with mental health problems and other disabilities
for work through confidence-building and motivation is required
by Jobcentre staff. One solution would be for The Trust to be
listed as an option under Pathways to Work.
11. There are ad hoc bridging benefits and
discretionary funds to help with housing for 16-17 year olds first
starting work. However, this is not widely available and some
young people find it very difficult to accept a job offer when
for the first month they will have no money coming in at all.
This immediate pressure and lack of income can be a disincentive
12. With such positive outcomes on Trust
programmes (75% of all the young people we supported in 2005-06
moved into employment, education or training) it is a shame that
so many young people do not feel able to join programmes as they
are concerned about the effect it will have on their benefits.
The Trust is clearly supporting Government welfare reform targets
through its work with disadvantaged young people, including lone
parents and those with disabilities, and a simplification of the
benefits system could help more young people with the transition
from benefit to work.
13. All Prince's Trust programmes can help
move young people towards work. The current communication problems
and inconsistencies outlined above often result in a disincentive
in getting disadvantaged young people into work.
Case Studies: NB: Names have been changed
John was referred onto The Trust's Team Programme
by his JSA Adviser. John has learning difficulties, is dyslexic
and has no qualifications. He received a letter in Week 5 of the
Team Programme, telling him to attend an initial interview with
his New Deal Adviser, who told him he would need to leave Team
to take up a New Deal option.
John got very upset as Team is the first thing
he has done that has worked for him. He has tried New Deal courses
in the past, but due to his learning difficulties had really struggled.
Team had offered him a chance to succeed and he was doing well.
The Trust's Team Leader intervened and spoke
to the New Deal Manager, who insisted that John must leave Team
and get a jobotherwise his benefit would be stopped. The
Team Leader felt that the Jobcentre staff hadn't picked up that
John's learning difficulties were a potential barrier to him moving
Following further intervention by the Team Leader,
John has now been referred to a Disability Adviser who has a far
more flexible approach, and John has been allowed to stay on Team.
Without the persistence of The Trust's Team Leader, John would
not have had such a positive outcome.
Lucy was referred onto The Trust's Team Programme
by her JSA Adviser. During week six of the programme she was invited
to a New Deal interview where she was told that she needed to
leave Team and take up a New Deal option or get a job.
The Trust's Team Leader explained that she was
doing really well on Team and that a work placement had been arranged
with a local newspaper. Lucy's hobby is photography and she is
doing evening classes to improve her skills and gain qualifications.
The local paper had never offered placements previously, but were
so impressed by Lucy's work folder, and the fact that she is serious
about making photography her future career, they agreed for her
to spend two weeks with their photographers, going out on assignments.
The Jobcentre had put Lucy's career options
down as retail only. The case continues.
1. All agency workers should have access
to a consistent up-to-date system providing information on opportunities
available to claimants, particularly those run by the voluntary
sector, which help young people move into work. This will ensure
consistent advice is given.
2. Young people taking part in employment
related training, such as The Trust's Team programme, should not
have their benefits taken away from them during the course.
3. Agency workers should be better trained
on how Trust programmes can help those with mental health problems
on incapacity benefit move into work. Voluntary organisations
working in this area should be considered for signposting under
Pathways to Work.
4. Hardship Allowances should not be stopped
for young people taking part in one week residentials which are
part of employment related training.
5. Agency workers should be consistently
trained to allow young people to be excused from signing on when
they go on a residential as part of employment related training.
6. Benefits should continue to be available
in the first six months for business start-ups. The test trading
model is a step in the right direction but needs to be better
communicated and more flexible.
4 April 2007
2 Department for Work and Pensions Statistics 2005. Back
Fit for the Future? Exploring the health and well-being of disadvantaged
young people: The Prince's Trust, November 2006. Back