COMMONS

Role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system

19 April 2013

The Work and Pensions Committee is to begin an inquiry into Jobcentre Plus (JCP).

The inquiry will focus on the services JCP offers to benefit claimants, jobseekers and employers and its relationships with external providers and stakeholders such as local authorities, in the context of recent and ongoing welfare reforms,  including the introduction of  Universal Credit, and the resulting changes to JCP staff roles.

The Committee will consider the future of JCP as a public employment service, including its role as "gatekeeper" to contracted-out services such as the Work Programme and Work Choice. It will also assess the support which JCP currently provides to jobseekers in the early months of their unemployment benefit claim, before referral to external providers.

The inquiry will also assess whether the organisational changes in JCP since 2011 have produced efficiencies and streamlined management processes as intended.

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.
The Committee is particularly interested in the issues set out below. Submissions do not need to address all of these points.

  • JCP’s employment services, including: approaches to identifying jobseekers’ needs and barriers to employment; the effectiveness of the "Get Britain Working" measures; JCP’s role as a gateway to contracted-out services such as Work Choice and the Work Programme, including processes for referral and handover; JCP’s use of the Flexible Support Fund, including how spending decisions are made and evaluated; and the effectiveness of JCP’s relationships with other key stakeholders, particularly local authorities.
  • JCP’s role in relation to the rights and responsibilities of benefit claimants, including: the effectiveness of benefit conditionality, particularly job-seeking conditionality and the mandatory "work-focused interview"; and the level and appropriateness of JCP’s use of benefit sanctions, including differences of approach between JCP Districts. 
  • Supporting a flexible labour market, including: JCP’s effectiveness  in matching jobseekers to suitable job vacancies, including through the introduction of Universal Jobmatch; whether JCP is sufficiently focused on sustained job outcomes as well as off-benefit flows and how this is, or should be, measured; and employers’ assessment of the effectiveness of JCP as a recruitment partner.
  • The impacts of benefit reforms, including: the implications for JCP staff roles of the implementation of Universal Credit, including the skills staff will need in order to offer effective in-work support; changes to staff roles brought about by the move to "digital by default"; and plans to support claimants affected by the benefit cap.
  • The governance of JCP, including: whether ending the executive agency status of JCP, and bringing it under the central control of a single DWP Chief Operating Officer, has brought about efficiencies and streamlined management as intended; and the potential for more radical future changes to JCP. 

The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 24 May.

How to submit your evidence

  • Contributors should feel no obligation to comment on all the issues raised above, but should focus on those areas in which they have particular expertise or interest.
     
  • Submissions should be in Word or rich text format, not PDF format, and sent by email to workpencom@parliament.uk  The body of the email must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The email should also make clear who the submission is from. Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Work and Pensions Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.
  • Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained piece of written evidence. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include a summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence (PDF 2.46MB) (PDF PDF 2.46 MB)
  • Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Material already published elsewhere may be referred to within a proposed piece of written evidence, in which case a link to the published work should be included.
  • Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee. It is the Committee’s decision whether or not to accept a submission as formal written evidence.
  • Please bear in mind that the Committee cannot investigate individual cases.
  • The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet (where it will be accessible by search engines) or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive, you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Photo: PA

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