The future of Jobcentre Plus Contents

3Learning about “what works”

40.The DWP states that JCP will be seen in future as “the place to go for anyone wanting to find or progress in work”.93 Much of the evidence that we received emphasised the scale of the challenge involved achieving this. In developing new services, JCP will need to learn on the job. It will have to try out new models of provision, evaluate and identify what works well within and beyond JCP, and use this information and understanding in evolving JCP support. The Minister recognised this, telling us that the DWP is following a process of “iterative development” or “test and learn” in JCP, and that it is “willing to be flexible and adjust and learn from what happens”.94

Working with other services

41.Helen Milner, Chief Executive of digital inclusion charity the Tinder Foundation, said that JCP does not need to be “an island alone where they are going to do it all themselves”,95 while Patrick Hughes called for JCP’s organisational boundaries to become “more porous”.96 Witnesses suggested that joint working between JCP and other local services offered advantages such as:

42.The DWP’s settlement in the 2015 Spending Review requires it to increase co-location of JCP offices with other local services such as council benefit teams and mental health services.103 It must also reduce the size of its estate by 20%.104 In July 2016 there were 45 co-located sites across the UK. The DWP is considering future locations ahead of the expiry of the contract for its estate in March 2018.105

43.The Department told us that physical co-location would help to produce improved and cost-effective outcomes, particularly for people with complex needs.106 The Minister said that the DWP is open to developing a “whole range of models of co-location”—including both inward models, where organisations come into JCP—and outward models, where JCP staff are placed in third-party premises.107 Many organisations, including local authorities, were supportive of this approach.108 Serco, an external provider, highlighted that delivering a benefits service in a co-located setting at Peterborough City Council improved service provision.109 ERSA also reported that co-location made a “significant difference” in terms of growing trust and understanding between different organisations.110

44.The PCS Union said, however, that the organisational improvements of co-location have been “overstated”.111 Both the Learning and Work Institute and London Councils highlighted a “missed opportunity” because the DWP had focused on geographical co-location, rather than integrating the delivery of services.112 Several witnesses stressed that the relationships between organisations mattered more than physically being in the same space.113 Chris Williams, President of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists, said, for example, that pointing people to services that are nearby but not in the same offices “might work better”.114 Some witnesses were concerned about plans to place JCP advisers in health service settings, suggesting that this could cause anxiety and reduce the trust that claimants with health conditions have in their medical care.115 The Minister told us, however, that the Department was “not aware” of any concerns about the alternative approach of having mental health specialists delivering support in JCP.116

45.The DWP said that JCP has the flexibility to work in partnership with Local Authorities, third sector organisations and other partners to meet local demands, and to enable it to be a “gateway” to local services.117 This is already happening in some areas through the local devolution deals118 and trials of Universal Support Delivered Locally,119 a programme which provides an opportunity for JCP to extend partnership working to other local areas.120 Several witnesses highlighted, however, that the delivery of integrated services is often patchy, and is within quite narrowly defined boundaries around existing JCP initiatives.121

Barriers to joint working

46.We heard several barriers to effective joint working. These included difficulties in sharing data between the DWP and other providers: for example, sharing the Claimant Commitment to help organisations understand an individual’s needs and situations.122 A lack of a common triage process between JCP staff and voluntary and community sector organisations to make appropriate referrals to specialist interventions was another important barrier.123 Some organisations had found ways of addressing this: for example, Newcastle City Council showed that using a questionnaire in Universal Support Delivered Locally provided a consistent approach to identifying needs and making referrals to relevant digital, budgeting, employment or housing support at an early stage.124

47.Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, reported that the availability of funding in different parts of the country did not match enthusiasm for joint working. She explained, “third sector organisations or private ones also need paying”.125 The DWP suggested that JCP districts could use the Flexible Support Fund (see Box 2) to pay partner organisations and create their own bespoke programmes.126 Several witnesses endorsed wider use of the Fund for joint working. The Local Government Association, for example, suggested the Fund could deliver capacity where it was most needed.127 Mind and the Royal College of Psychiatrists also suggested that the Fund allowed specialist organisations to provide support “without the direct financial risk”.128 The Flexible Support Fund budget in 2014–15 was £136 million. Only £72 million was spent, however, leaving an under-spend of £64 million.129 Our predecessor Committee received evidence suggesting that there was a lack of awareness in JCP about the Fund and its uses, and hesitancy amongst JCP staff in using it to develop partnership working.130 The Department does not gather data on how the Fund is spent in supporting partnership working, and as of February 2016 had no plans to do so.131 It did, however, provide some examples to this inquiry of partnership programmes that have been established.132

Box 2: The Flexible Support Fund

The Flexible Support Fund replaced a number of previous funding schemes operated by Jobcentre Plus from April 2011. It has two purposes:

(1) Work Coaches have the discretion to use the Fund to provide additional support to help individual claimants move into work. This might include funding travel to interviews, clothing for interviews, or training courses.

(2) A grant funding mechanism that allows JCP district managers to fund partnerships with other organisations on a discretionary basis.

Source: McGuinness, T., & Kennedy, S., Briefing paper number 06079, Jobcentre Plus Flexible Support Fund, House of Commons Library, March 2016

48.Those organisations attempting to work in partnership with JCP are often “frustrated” by the DWP’s central control of the JCP budget.133 We heard calls for JCP districts to be offered a fully devolved budget to deliver local employment services.134 We also received numerous submissions telling us that devolved budgets should combine spending on employment support with other funding streams, including health and social care.135 For example, the North East Combined Authority told us that “devolution can be the key to foster greater service integration and a more holistic service to produce performance gains”.136 The Revolving Doors Agency, which works with ex-offenders, argued that extensive evidence shows “taking a holistic approach, rather than addressing single needs in isolation” is a common feature of effective employment support.137 Kennedy Scott, a specialist employment support provider, emphasised that this approach should be “propagated in not just the areas with greater devolutionary powers i.e. city regions, but also across the country.”138 The Department told us that it agreed with integrating employment support and health services to a greater extent. Iain Walsh, Director of Labour Market Strategy, stated that it is committed to “closer working at a more structural level between health and work”, because “that is where the real potential gains come from”.139

49.The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concluded that it is not clear how the Government will judge success and measure the progress of joint working.140 Tony Wilson also emphasised that there was a difference between the Government simply telling organisations to co-locate and improving local outcomes.141 Several witnesses therefore called for local areas to agree clear and common success measures, so that staff work together to achieve shared results.142 Witnesses suggested such measures could include:

50.The DWP’s written submission did not set out in any detail how it expects individual JCPs to set out and implement their plans for joint working. It merely stated: “the challenge will be for local Jobcentres to respond flexibly and imaginatively to the opportunities this provides”.147 The Minister told us that the Department expects JCP to work extensively with third-party providers at each site. He explained that the Department uses a “Jobcentre Operating Model” to set out a core framework for this.148 He added that the Department is taking a “test and learn” approach to developing multiple new models of provision and establishing what is most effective.149

51.JCP will be the gateway for ensuring the right people are referred to the right support at the right time. It may prove ineffective, however, in supporting vulnerable claimants if it is unable to work closely with other local organisations to address the broader social and health issues which affect claimants’ employability. JCP has limited organisational experience of this way of working. While we welcome the Department’s overall flexible, experimental approach to new provision, it needs to ensure that this is matched with clear guidance on, and promotion of, the opportunities for joint working.

52.The Flexible Support Fund is a potentially important resource that JCP can use to develop its partnership working with other organisations. However, it is underused and under-publicised. We recommend that the Department take steps to promote the Fund for this purpose, and that it monitors the extent of uptake and the purposes for which it is used. This should include identifying its use by individual Jobcentres.

53.There is significant support for allowing JCP districts greater control of their budgets, and for integrating health and employment budgets in particular, to help JCP address the full range of barriers to work. This should extend beyond the Flexible Support Fund which, while valuable, is also discretionary. We recommend that JCP districts should be allocated their own health budgets for the remaining financial years during this Spending Review period, with the expectation that this will be spent on developing partnerships to address health-related barriers to work. Clear and common success measures should be agreed with local areas, including the proportion of people who find sustained employment through these programmes.

Central accountability and evaluation

54.The PAC cautioned that devolution does not absolve central government departments of oversight of implementation.150 Accountability is a concern for any devolution of the working relationship between Jobcentres and local government.151 To ensure a consistent service and help minimise a “postcode lottery”, several witnesses therefore called for a national framework of minimum service standards for JCP.152 This would set out the quality and nature of support that claimants can expect to receive. Within it, local areas could agree on responsibilities, outcomes and resourcing.153

55.Professor Daniel Finn stressed that it would not be feasible for all local areas to acquire immediately the expertise of central government in establishing employment services.154 The Joseph Rowntree Foundation also said that the government should not force joint working on local areas unwilling to undertake, or insufficiently experienced in, the tasks involved.155 Witnesses therefore called for the DWP to test new approaches to local delivery prior to fuller devolution, through an evaluation framework.156 Matthew Oakley suggested that the DWP’s framework should set out which approaches to test and the information to present, which would produce information to “say what works”.157 The Department’s iterative approach to developing new models of provision appears to follow this approach, but it is not fully clear what measures it will examine in its evaluations.158

56.We recommend the Department set an evaluation framework that local areas can use to test different approaches to local delivery, and produce information on “what works”, before moving to fuller devolution of JCP employment services. This should form the basis for a national framework of minimum service standards that central government can use to hold local areas to account. The evaluation framework should clearly set out performance measures that can be applied across the whole of the JCP caseload, including claimants who are a long way from the labour market. This means that metrics should be applicable to claimants who have not yet moved onto Universal Credit, and should be appropriate for measuring progress towards work as well as moves into work. We return to this in Chapter 5, para. 96-97.


93 DWP (FJP0064)

94 Q147 (Damian Hinds), see also Q173 (Paul Williams)

95 Q75 (Helen Milner)

96 Q24 (Patrick Hughes)

97 Q55 (Nicoya Palastanga), Q72 (Cathy Corcoran), Q114 (Keith Faulkner), Q87 (Karen Walker-Bone) Forth Sector (FJP0012), North East Combined Authority (FJP0041), The Highland Council (FJP0024), Royal British Legion Industries (FJP0006), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040), Learning and Work Institute (DEG0086), Remploy (DEG0075)

98 Q59 (Kirsty McHugh), Q67 (Peter Bacon)

99 See, for example, Q46 (Kirsty McHugh), Q49 (Nicoya Palastanga), Hind, D., Delivering differently: how to deliver change, Policy Exchange, August 2016, p.48, The Highland Council (FJP0024), London Councils (FJP0068), ENABLE Scotland (FJP0062), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (FJP0072), Royal British Legion Industries (FJP0006), Citizens Advice Scotland (FJP0066)

100 See, for example, Q26 (Tony Wilson), Hind, D., Delivering differently: how to deliver change, Policy Exchange, August 2016, p.45, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (FJP0037), British Psychological Society (FJP0025), Newcastle City Council (FJP0042), The Highland Council (FJP0024), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040)

101 See, for example, London Councils (FJP0068), Essex County Council (FJP0027), North East Combined Authority (FJP0041), Disability Sheffield (FJP0059), Working Links (FJP0061), Royal British Legion Industries (FJP0006), Oakley, M., Employment support for a high wage economy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, November 2015

102 MyGo, the MyGo service, 2016. See also: Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071) and Local Government Association (FJP0056)

103 HM Treasury, Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, Cm 9162, November 2015, para 1.129

105 DWP (FJP0087)

106 DWP (FJP0064)

107 Q137 (Damian Hinds)

108 See, for example, Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (FJP0072, DEG0085), GIPSIL (FJP0039), Child Poverty Action Group (FJP0035), Touchstone Consultancy (FJP0073), The Intraining Group (FJP0044), Liverpool City Region Employment and Skills Board (FJP0053), Royal British Legion Industries (FJP0006, DEG0086), Revolving Doors Agency (FJP0058), Disability Sheffield (FJP0059), National Deaf Children’s Society (FJP0023), Dyslexia Adult Network (FJP0021), Citizens Advice Scotland (FJP0066), Local Government Association (FJP0056), Essex County Council (FJP0027), Plymouth City Council (FJP0020), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (FJP0016), West Lindsey District Council, City of Lincoln Council, North Kesteven District Council (FJP0015), The Highland Council (FJP0024), Mr Mark Whiley (FJP0003) , Remploy (DEG0075)

109 Serco (FJP0050)

110 ERSA (FJP0045)

111 Public and Commercial Services Union (FJP0079)

112 Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071), London Councils (FJP0068)

113 Q47 (Nicoya Palastanga), Q45 (Claire Horton), Q31 (Tony Wilson), Q46 (Kirsty McHugh), Q72 (Helen Milner), Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071), Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) (FJP0038), Working Links (FJP0061), ERSA, Housing and employment services joint plan, 2016, p. 3, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (FJP0043)

114 Q51 (Chris Williams)

115 Inclusion London (DEG0059), Inclusion Scotland (DEG0061) Parkinson’s UK (DEG0024), David Gillon (DEG0071)

116 Q169 (Damian Hinds)

117 DWP (FJP0064)

118 A series of devolution deals between central government and local areas in England to transfer powers, funding and accountability for policies previously undertaken by central government to support local economic growth. See: National Audit Office, English devolution deals, April 2016, p. 5

119 Universal Support Delivered Locally is a framework for delivering local support to Universal Credit claimants that may require transitional support, in particular in relation to digital skills and personal budgeting. As part of this framework, 11 areas were selected to trial different aspects of partnership working, needs assessment and delivery of support. See: DWP, evaluation of the Universal Support delivered locally trials, July 2016

120 DWP (FJP0064), Salvation Army (FJP0018), Action on Hearing Loss (FJP0026), Scope (FJP0069), London Councils (FJP0068)

121 Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071), Employment Related Services Association (FJP0045), Association of Employment and Learning Providers (FJP0037)

122 Q42 (Claire Horton), Q51 (Nicoya Palastanga), Newcastle City Council (FJP0042), London Councils (FJP0068), Local Government Association (FJP0056), Essex County Council (FJP0027), Plymouth City Council (FJP0020), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (FJP0016), Employment Related Services Association (FJP0045), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (FJP0072), Royal British Legion Industries (FJP0006), The Intraining Group (FJP0044), Liverpool City Region Employment and Skills Board (FJP0053), DWP, evaluation of the Universal Support delivered locally trials, July 2016, Finn, D., the organisation and regulation of the public employment service: the experience of selected European Countries - the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom, May 2016, p. 97, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Evaluation of the deepened co-location trials, December 2012, p. 7

123 Newcastle City Council (FJP0042), Plymouth City Council (FJP0020), London Councils (FJP0068), Serco (FJP0050), Bright Sparks Consulting Ltd (FJP0088)

124 Newcastle City Council (FJP0042)

125 Q61-62 (Kirsty McHugh)

126 DWP (FJP0064)

127 Local Government Association (FJP0056)

128 Mind and Royal College of Psychiatrists (FJP0067)

129 McGuinness, T., & Kennedy, S., Briefing paper number 06079, Jobcentre Plus Flexible Support Fund, House of Commons Library, 16 March 2016

130 Work and Pensions Committee, The role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system, 28 January 2014, HC 479 2013–14, para 10

131 PQ27973, 26 February 2016

132 DWP (FJP0094)

133 Essex County Council (FJP0027)

134 Q67 (Chris Williams), Plymouth City Council (FJP0020), Essex County Council (FJP0027), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040), The Intraining Group (FJP0044)

135 Q91 (Karen Walker-Bone), The Work Foundation (DEG0094), Scope (DEG0069), National Autistic Society (FJP0052), Kennedy Scott (DEG0056), Local Government Association (DEG0049), Royal British Legion Industries (DEG0046), Leonard Cheshire Disability (DEG0039), Thurrock Coalition (FJP0057), Revolving Doors Agency (FJP0058), North East Combined Authority (FJP0041), Hind, D., Delivering differently: how to deliver change, Policy Exchange, August 2016, p.47

136 North East Combined Authority (FJP0041)

137 Revolving Doors Agency (FJP0058)

138 Kennedy Scott (DEG0056)

139 Q174 (Iain Walsh)

140 Public Accounts Committee, Cities and local growth, Session 2016–17, HC 296, 1 July 2016, para 1

141 Q31 (Tony Wilson)

142 Greater Manchester Combined Authority (FJP0016), Essex County Council (FJP0027), Newcastle City Council (FJP0042), North East Combined Authority (FJP0041), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (FJP0072), Serco (FJP0050), The Intraining Group (FJP0044), Liverpool City Region Employment and Skills Board (FJP0053), Crisis (FJP0060), DWP, evaluation of the Universal Support delivered locally trials, July 2016,

143 Q49-50 (Nicoya Palastanga)

144 Q42 (Claire Horton), North East Combined Authority (FJP0041), Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) (FJP0038)

145 Q50 (Kirsty McHugh), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040), Oakley, M., Employment support for a high wage economy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, November 2015

146 Q50 (Claire Horton)

147 DWP (FJP0064)

148 Q154 (Damian Hinds)

149 Q146-147, 149, 151 (Damian Hinds, Paul Williams, Iain Walsh)

150 Public Accounts Committee, Cities and local growth, Session 2016–17, HC 296, July 2016, p. 3

151 Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040)

152 On the risk of a postcode lottery, see, for example, learndirect Limited (FJP0013), Forth Sector (FJP0012), Disability Sheffield (FJP0059), Thurrock Coalition (FJP0057), Leicester Red-Thread Limited (FJP0049), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040). On a national framework of minimum service standards, see for example, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (FJP0016), Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040), Serco (FJP0050), The Intraining Group (FJP0044), Oakley, M., Employment support for a high wage economy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, November 2015, p. 3

153 Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071)

154 Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040)

155 Oakley, M., Employment support for a high wage economy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, November 2015, p. 3

156 Q18 (Matthew Oakley), Q31 (Tony Wilson), Professor Daniel Finn (FJP0040), Learning and Work Institute (FJP0071)

157 Q18 (Matthew Oakley)

158 Q93 (Damian Hinds)




7 November 2016