Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Annex B


  Jobcentre Plus recognises that better off calculations are a powerful and valuable tool in influencing customers to consider leaving benefit and enter paid employment. Personal Advisers consider offering a better off calculation during all interviews with the customer and, equally, customers may request a calculation at any time during their claim.

  The generic, national minimum standard has been introduced to ensure all Personal Advisers contribute effectively to Jobcentre Plus aims to tackle poverty and promote work as the best form of welfare. The intention behind the standard is to increase the volume of customers who receive advice about the extent to which they would be better off in work. Regional performance does vary as calculations are completed for those customers as and when it is considered appropriate. The use of better off calculations is regularly monitored by the Advisory Services Managers during their monthly checks, eg Quality Assurance Framework reviews.

  Better off calculations should only be offered where it is appropriate and helpful to do so. It would be wrong and inefficient otherwise. It is important for the Personal Adviser to assess the needs of each new customer and to balance the tasks that are required, addressing the most pertinent matters within the timeframe of the interview. Personal Advisers use their professional judgement to determine the optimum points in a customer's claim to complete a calculation. For instance, it may be inappropriate to offer a calculation to a recently bereaved parent whose prime concern is to settle their children.

  Where it may not be appropriate for the customer to receive a better off calculation when they first make a claim to benefit the consideration will be made again and a calculation offered at a later date. For example, this is supported in the Lone Parent Journey where better off calculations are considered at New Claim, trigger reviews and initial New Deal for Lone Parent interviews

  A better off calculation is not always appropriate if one has been conducted recently and there has been no change in the customer's circumstances.

  A combination of the current delivery of updated IT to Jobcentre Plus and the significant improvements under development to the existing BOC product means that by November 2007 the time taken to complete a calculation should be reduced by up to a half, giving Personal Advisers greater opportunity to use the calculator even more effectively.

  In parallel with this work, Jobcentre Plus plans to provide on-line access to better off calculations in 2008. This will enable the calculator to be accessible to everyone who has access to the Internet.

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Prepared 26 July 2007