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
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.