The Work and Pensions Committee has published the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) response to its report on in-work progression in Universal Credit, published on 4 May 2015.
Government must nurture Work Coaches carefully
The DWP agreed that the employment support service for in-work claimants in Universal Credit has great potential to support people to progress in work and increase their earnings. In realising this potential, the DWP acknowledges the Committee's recommendation that the Government must nurture Jobcentre Work Coaches carefully, and it is using its pilot of an in-work service to understand their additional skills, experience and training needs.
Government commits to publishing interim update in early 2017
In response to our concerns about a lack of transparency about the Government's plans, the Government has committed to publishing an additional interim update on progress in the trial in early 2017, alongside its planned final report of the trial in early 2018. This interim report will include headline data about sanctions. The DWP also plans to publish some information about the nature and scope of the trial in a dedicated information page on the gov.uk pages by summer 2016.
We welcome this additional information and will want to see that the use of financial sanctions for employed claimants are being applied very differently to those for out-of-work claimants.
Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:
"We note the DWP's recognition of the pivotal role that Work Coaches play in supporting employed claimants to progress, and we will want to see that the Government is enhancing their skills to perform this role effectively.
The Committee is strongly in favour of the in-work policy but we had some concerns about a lack of transparency about the Government's plans. The DWP has made some commitments to address our concerns, including a dedicated online page and bringing forward an update about the findings form the trial by a year.
We welcome this additional monitoring, but we are unclear from the Government's response what the headline information on sanctions will cover, or why such data will not be published from autumn 2016 as we recommended. If financial sanctions are being used appropriately for employed claimants there is no reason why the DWP should not publish it now. We will continue to monitor the DWP's progress in delivering fair and effective support to working claimants and will return to this topic in the future."