This mixed-method research study considered the implementation and delivery of the Jobcentre Plus Offer, as well as how it is being experienced by claimants during the early stages of their claim. The research took place throughout early 2012, following the introduction of the Offer in April 2011.
The research consisted of:
- interviews with all District Managers to provide contextual information for the research
- detailed case studies in six Jobcentre Plus district areas, involving site visits and depth interviews with staff and claimants
- a survey of over 3,000 new JSA and ESA (who are subject to the Offer) claimants, once they had taken part in a New Jobseeker Interview (NJI) or New Joiner’s Work Focused Interview (NJWFI).
During the final year of the evaluation, follow up interviews will be carried out with survey participants as they flow off from the Offer, either into work, on to the Work Programme or another destination. A second wave of interviews will also be carried out within the case studies in early 2013. The final evaluation report will be published towards the end of 2013.
The evaluation was commissioned in late 2011. The Jobcentre Plus Offer introduced a new way of working for Jobcentre Plus districts and staff, involving a significant cultural change towards more flexibility and personalisation, and away from prescribed processes and activities. The evaluation was commissioned to consider the operation and effect of this new way of working on claimant outcomes. The Offer is underpinned by the new Performance Management Framework, which measures performance in terms of the number of claimants moving into work (and which is subject to a separate evaluation).
The Department for Work and Pensions has already used the research on the Jobcentre Plus Offer to help ensure that the Offer successfully delivers to all claimants. This includes:
- re-examining and re-issuing the learning and development available to advisers on ESA and the claimant journey for someone on ESA, to provide more clarity around the role of the adviser and help advisers have more confidence in supporting ESA claimants through the Offer (or through a referral to the Work Programme if this is more appropriate).
- reviewing the forms and guidance for advisers on the Flexible Support Fund (FSF). These were launched in September 2012. For this, support was provided by the North West Lean Development Centre to identify customers’ requirements, as well as workshops with operational staff and key stakeholders.
- promoting best practice, for which a recent event was held by Jobcentre Plus that included exhibits showing what has been achieved by staff through innovation and creativity. The exhibits were designed to showcase best practice from around the UK, and included some exceptional examples of partnership working. We hope to promote best practice through a range of different methods going forward.
The evaluation will be conducted over two years by TNS-BMRB and this report covers the findings from the first year of the study.