APPENDIX 1: JOBSEEKER'S ALLOWANCE (MANDATORY
WORK ACTIVITY SCHEME) REGULATIONS 2011 (SI 2011/688): FURTHER
Further information from the Department for Work
Q1. The scheme is for
"a small number of JSA participants" - could you indicate
how many the programme is aiming to accommodate both as a number
and as a percentage of the total number of claimants. Will these
be evenly distributed around the country and therefore reasonably
local to the claimant?
A1. The Specification
that was issued to potential providers as part of the Invitation
to Tender set out that the Department expected a minimum of 10,000
Mandatory Work Activity placements per annum. This represents
less than one percent of the 1.45 million people claiming Jobseeker's
Allowance at March 2011.
The Department expects this number to increase, as
the competition to deliver Mandatory Work Activity asked bidders
to maximise the number of places that they offer. However, the
final number is subject to the completion of the Mandatory Work
Activity tendering process, which will be completed by early April.
The funding available for placements has been distributed
around the country on the basis of an estimate of the number of
customers that are likely to be referred in each area, in order
to make the provision available where it is needed most. Additionally,
customers will not be required to travel excessive distances in
order to attend Mandatory Work Activity, and a customer's travel
costs will be met.
Q2. What type of work/activity
will they be offered? - the tender went out on 14 Feb and the
scheme commences on 25 April - have any decisions been made. Can
you yet cite some actual schemes?
A2. The contracting process
for Mandatory Work Activity has not yet been completed, contracts
will be awarded in April 2011.
We have not asked bidders to specify the placements
that they propose to find for customers; instead we will rely
on their ability to source appropriate placements throughout the
life of the contracts. This is in keeping with changes across
the Department, which focus on allowing as much flexibility as
possible to consider what will best support customers.
However, all the placements that the providers find
must offer people the opportunity to gain fundamental work disciplines,
as well as being of benefit to local communities. The Department
has stipulated that each provider will be expected to have placements
available across a range of sectors.
Q3. Please confirm
that the scheme starts nationally on 25 April ie there are no
pilot schemes to be later followed by a phased roll-out (which
some of your schemes have had)
A3. The scheme will be
available nationally from May 2011. We will not be operating a
Q4. EM para 9.1 says
guidance will be issued detailing how JCP advisers will identify
customers as being suitable for referral to mandatory work activity.
Please can we see the extract from the guidance that sets this
A4. The Department is
currently in the process of finalising the guidance for Jobcentre
Plus advisers, and so is unable to share an example of the Guidance
with the Committee. However, we are able to share the high level
principles that will be used to identify suitable customers.
Jobcentre Plus advisers will consider evidence
demonstrated by the customer against a set of standards to make
constant judgements about whether the customer would benefit from
the Mandatory Work Activity support. These standards will be underpinned
by indicating behaviours associated with the disciplines that
are key requirements of finding, securing and retaining employment.
Customers who consistently fail to demonstrate a number of these
indicators over a period of time will be considered for a
referral to Mandatory Work Activity.
Some of the indicators Jobcentre Plus advisers may
- tends to take no personal responsibility for
job search activity, waits to be organised/contacted;
- reluctant to make speculative approaches, follow
up advice or job leads;
- regularly fails to attend appointments and interviews
- has little or no recent work experience;
- limited awareness of the types of support
available to help them with their jobsearch; and
- has no realistic appreciation of employer attitudes
After the identification of a suitable customer,
and prior to any referral, the Jobcentre Plus adviser will
discuss the referral with a manager outlining the benefits of
the referral to the customer.
Q5. If someone fails
in their first referral they can be referred a second time after
the sanction has expired. Could someone on long-term unemployment
be referred a third or fourth time?
A5. If a customer's Jobcentre
Plus Personal Adviser felt that Mandatory Work Activity continued
to be suitable for a customer, they could be referred again at
a later date. We would not expect customers to regularly be referred
three of four times, but the final decision as to who to refer
would rest with the Jobcentre Plus adviser.
Additionally, if a customer has a complaint about
Jobcentre Plus they will be able to escalate this through the
existing Jobcentre Plus complaints procedure.
Q6. Can you please
confirm that a sanction would be complete cancellation of benefit
for 13 weeks - under what circumstances and at what level would
hardship payments be made? If the claimant was also eligible for
say Housing Benefit would that continue unaffected if their JSA
A6. I can confirm that
for customers (other than those with joint claim Jobseeker's Allowance)
the full amount of their Jobseeker's Allowance payment will not
be paid for the full period of 13 weeks.
As is the situation for all Jobseekers Allowance
customers, those participating in Mandatory Work Activity who
are sanctioned can apply for, and receive hardship payments.
Hardship payments are made when a decision maker
acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,
having considered all the circumstances of the claimant or family
determines that hardship will occur if Jobseeker's Allowance is
The process takes account of other income (including
benefits), savings and debts together with other help from friends
A hardship payment is the normal amount of Jobseeker's
Allowance reduced by a sum equivalent to 40% of the claimant's
personal allowance or 20% in a case where the claimant or any
other member of the family is either pregnant or is seriously
Although a customer has been sanctioned, they retain
their underlying entitlement to income based Jobseekers Allowance
and therefore their entitlement to Housing Benefits is not affected
by the sanction.
Measures in the Welfare Reform Bill are intended
to support some changes to the current system of hardship payments.
For example, to make hardship payments to non-vulnerable claimants
only available on a recoverable basis. Our aim is to ensure that
these payments do not undermine the deterrent effect of sanctions.
These proposals will be debated during the passage of the Bill.
Q7. What evidence do
you have to support the assertion that "After their four
week placement, they will be better placed to re-assess their
approach and engage more effectively with the requirements of
seeking work and other support offered by Jobcentre Plus."
A7. Mandatory Work Activity
is a new scheme and therefore we have limited evidence.
Looking forward, evaluation is important for a new
proposal such as the Mandatory Work Activity Scheme. We are preparing
a detailed evaluation strategy which will include qualitative
research with customers to gather their feedback on the policy.
The qualitative research will also collect feedback from providers,
Jobcentre Plus Advisers and others involved in delivering the
Mandatory Work Activity Scheme. We also intend to conduct an impact
assessment on the policy by analysing data on the employment and
benefit receipt outcomes of participants in the scheme compared
to a suitable comparison group.
This policy is targeted at those customers who have
demonstrated that they require support to gain work related disciplines
and re-engage with their search for work, as well as failing to
voluntarily engage in the support that is offered by Jobcentre
Plus. We believe that the short placement will provide the encouragement
needed by some customers to engage fully with the Jobcentre Plus
managers and advisers. Advisers will then judge which interventions
will help individuals and have more discretion to support to customers
according to their individual needs.
Q8. There is a complaints
procedure in place within the scheme para 53 ff but how will the
JCP Adviser be made aware of the claimant's concerns?
A8. Information on complaints
will not be automatically passed to Jobcentre Plus Personal Advisers,
however participants will continue to attend Fortnightly Jobsearch
Reviews, where they are able to raise any concerns with their
Personal Adviser directly.
Additionally, Jobcentre Plus will provide advice
and support to customers who need any help to understand the complaints
procedure, or require support to lodge a complaint with the provider.
31 March 2011