The government has issued its response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system. The government response agreed or partly agreed with 18 of the recommendations and rejected five.
Responses of particular interest to ERSA members:
- While government agreed that regular reviews of initial face to face assessments with JCP were beneficial it did not comment specifically on the recommendation that relevant data be passed to WP providers should the jobseeker be referred on.
- Government agreed that they were developing a new jobseeker segmentation tool but highlighted that the results of pilots would determine ‘whether it has wider application, including for contracted programmes such as the Work Programme’.
- On improving performance measurements for JCP under Universal Credit, government commented that plans existed to pilot employment-related performance measures. This includes testing the applicability of employment measures to different groups of claimants; for instance, speed of movement into work vs duration in work vs earnings progression whilst in work.
- Government partly agreed to look at improving support from JCP to ESA customers and those with disabilities by outlining the range of recommendations outlined in the recent disability and health employment strategy and highlighting that government are exploring how best to support and deliver a specialist adviser role, including a national network of specialist advisers.
- In response to the Committee’s recommendation to further investigate links between off benefits targets and sanctioning, government responded that it will be publishing further information on sanctions through the forthcoming Work Programme Evaluation and will consider in due course if further inquiries would be appropriate.
- Government outlined activates to engage JCP with employers and for integrating further the use of Universal Jobmatch.
- DWP rejected the recommendation to make a formal audit of the JCP estate, to ensure effective use of resource.
Commenting on the government response to the Work and Pensions report into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA said:
“ ERSA welcomes Government’s commitment to supporting jobseekers with the greatest barriers to finding work, and will continue to assist DWP on getting future provision right, especially as Universal Credit is rolled out. To make sure the individual needs of jobseekers are met, ERSA supports the development of an accurate assessment and segmentation tool for all jobseekers support needs.
“However there are still big challenges to overcome. JCP and employment support programmes must work more effectively together, putting the jobseekers interests at the heart of what is being delivered. Sharing customer data and working towards the same outcome is the right and only way forward.”