CHAPTER 1 Introduction

Although the New Deals are not exclusively targeted at 18–24 year olds, the programme designed for this age group was the first and the most substantially funded of the many programmes launched. However, for ease of reading, in Chapters 1–9 of this Handbook, we generally use the term "New Deal" to mean the programme for 18–24 year olds. In subsequent chapters we use a more specific term to refer to the programmes for older unemployed people, disabled people and lone parents.

Participation in the New Deal is mandatory for all 18–24 year olds who have been unemployed and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for 6 months or more (see Chapter 2). The overall aim of the programme is to help them "find work and improve their prospects of remaining in sustained employment". The New Deal for 18–24 year olds provides a range of help consisting of three elements:

  1. a subsidised waged job with an employer
  2. work on the environment task force paying "benefit plus" or a wage
  3. work with a voluntary organisation paying "benefit plus" or a wage

These first 3 options last for 6 months and all include an element of education or training of at least 1 day a week.

  1. full-time education or training up to NVQ/SVQ level 2. This option can last up to 12 months and participants are only paid an allowance equivalent to their benefit with some access to expenses for "exceptional costs".

New Deal guidance emphasises that the personal adviser will arrange an option taster or organise referral to an agreed option (NDPG (18-24), Ch 1, Appen 1). However, regardless of how the option is ultimately selected, if a participant refuses or fails to take up the place or leaves the option early without a good reason, then a benefit sanction of 2 weeks will be imposed (increasing to 4 weeks and then 6 months for subsequent violations). The rules governing benefit sanctions for New Deal participants are covered in Chapter 9.

The remaining chapters of the Handbook deal with programmes aimed at older people and at specific groups:

New Deal delivery arrangements

Unlike previous Government employment and training programmes, the New Deal is delivered by different organisations, and in significantly different ways, in different areas of the country. Many agencies are involved in delivering the different aspects of the New Deal. So, as a participant in the New Deal Gateway, you may come into contact with staff from a number of other organisations involved in New Deal delivery, such as careers services, Training and Enterprise Councils or Local Enterprise Companies (TECs/LECs), local authorities, voluntary organisations and the private sector. For example, you might have regular interviews with an adviser from the local careers service or a local community-based organisation which will help you decide on the most appropriate New Deal option for you.

In 12 parts of the country, the Government has brought in private sector agencies to run the New Deal, so in these areas, your contact with the Jobcentre could be very limited indeed.

Although the Employment Service (ES) has the key role in co-ordinating the New Deal locally, it works in partnership with other organisations. Each local New Deal Delivery Partnership is responsible for delivering "a high quality and effective New Deal for unemployed young people" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 1, para 30).

In order to meet the diverse requirements of many young unemployed people, the ES has sub-contracted some elements of the Gateway. Although arrangements will vary from one area to another, ex-offenders can be referred to the probation service; people with insecure housing tenure may be advised by an agency which helps the homeless and people with debt problems may be referred to a Citizens Advice Bureau for debt counselling.

When on a New Deal option you will be working (or training) at a location away from the Jobcentre. You may be referred to your option directly by the ES or by an intermediary.

Role of the ES personal adviser

Every New Deal participant is allocated a New Deal personal adviser. This adviser may have a lot of contact with you during your time on the New Deal or may have very little (depending on local delivery arrangements), but at a minimum will conduct your initial New Deal interview (see Chapter 3) and, if you go on to enter one of the New Deal options, will formally refer you to the option. S/he will also "develop and maintain a working relationship [with you] … whilst maintaining contact with [you] in order to offer support and to monitor progress" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 1, Appen 1).

One or more other organisations may also decide to allocate personal advisers to you, but these advisers do not have the same status as the ES personal adviser. The key difference is that only your ES personal adviser can refer you to adjudication for a benefit sanction for failing to attend a part of the New Deal or for failing to apply for or take up the offer of a job. Other advisers can report your actions to the ES adviser, but only the ES adviser can actually decide to refer your case to an ES decision maker for a decision as to whether or not to impose a sanction.

The "ONE" service

In 1999, a new service was launched in 12 pilot areas to offer a single "work-focused" point of entry to the benefit system for all claimants who are not working – or are working for less than 16 hours per week. The pilots were launched in three groups:

Every new claim is managed by a personal adviser who establishes the claimant’s individual needs and evaluates his/her prospects of work. For all JSA claimants, the initial ONE meeting has replaced the New Jobseeker Interview.

The aim is to provide claimants with a seamless service, integrating the activities carried out by the ES, the Benefits Agency and local authorities. It is intended to build on the principles pioneered in the New Deal and provide the guidance needed for employment, training or rehabilitation. The ONE service administers all new and repeat claims for the following benefits:

For people claiming these benefits, the process will differ significantly from their previous arrangements because ONE "places work, and the steps required to facilitate entry or return to the labour market, as a priority at the outset of a claim, in addition to the payment of benefit" (ONE, Ch 1, para 17). Claimants seeking a 6 monthly renewal of Housing Benefit (HB) and/or Council Tax Benefit (CTB) are not required to take part in a work-focused meeting every time they renew their claim. However, anyone claiming HB/CTB as an in-work benefit (because they are working less than an average of 16 hours a week) applies through ONE (ONE, Ch 1, para 13).

The first step in the process involves a "start-up meeting" with a start-up adviser who will collect sufficient information about the client’s circumstances to make "an initial judgement about immediate benefit needs [and] possible diversion to suitable work opportunities" (ONE, Ch 1, para 13). A named personal adviser, who will be the main point of contact for throughout the client’s time in ONE, is then assigned. In the four call-centre pilots, the initial information about the claimant is taken by telephone and a first meeting is booked.

The allocated adviser will (ONE, Ch 1, para 19):

Your interview with the personal adviser will normally take place within three days of start-up (ONE, Ch 8, para 22). Advisers are told that they should "put the client at ease, start to gain their confidence and establish rapport". They should make it clear "that they are there to help" and to "focus very much on the client’s needs, gaining their commitment and helping them to agree an appropriate course of action" (ONE, Ch 3, para 29-30). Before the meeting starts, your adviser will pass your benefit claim forms to a benefit expert who will make sure that they are properly filled out – and advise you of any additional information/evidence required – before forwarding them to the ES, BA or local authority for processing (ONE, Ch 3, para 1).

The meeting will normally be conducted in two parts:

At the first personal adviser interview, it is likely that the ONE service will offer you different types of help. This may include:

Your adviser will help design an Action Plan which draws together the advice and activity described above. The Plan – a copy of which you will keep – will be reviewed regularly and updated as you go through a series of further ONE meetings. This process of "caseloading" is meant to give you regular advice and guidance and "continues the one-to-one working relationship" with your personal adviser. The meetings are designed to help you to explore any barriers to employment or consider a range of options, such as employment and training provision which includes New Deal programmes. If you start a job, your personal adviser can offer "ongoing help through in-work support".

Advisers are warned not try and arm-twist people into jobs. They are told that although ONE is meant to "help clients become more employable and find work" it should also improve the "prospects of achieving sustainable employment" and caseloading should not be "just a ‘hot-box’ for matching clients to vacancies irrespective of their needs" (ONE, Ch 4, paras 1-4).

Mandatory participation

JSA claimants are required to fully participate in ONE and fulfil the terms of their Jobseeker’s Agreement.

When the pilots started in 1999, other benefit recipients joined ONE on a voluntary basis – apart from their initial interview and new claim for benefit. From April 2000, continuing participation by non-JSA claimants became mandatory so all benefit recipients will have to attend periodic interviews.

If you do not present yourself for interview and participate in the process, there are two possible consequences:

In some cases, the sanction will not apply. This is the case, for example, if you are a lone parent who has been receiving benefit for more than a year, have not taken part in an interview for more than a year and previously had been eligible for Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance (WFIR Reg 6 (3)(b)).

In addition, you will not have to attend if you (WFIR Reg 6 (4)(a-e)):

The ONE service can also decide to give you a "waiver" or defer the interview on the grounds that it would "not be of assistance" or would "not be appropriate in the circumstances of [your] case" (WFIR Regs, regs 7 & 8).

If you can show "good cause" for not attending, then no further action will be taken. Recognising the potentially difficult circumstances of many of the non-JSA benefit recipients who may be called for a ONE interview, the regulations say that good cause can include a wide range of cases (WFIR Reg 14):

Even where a benefit deduction is made, claimants can retain a nominal amount of each benefit (10p for Income Support and 50p for Housing Benefit) to prevent the claim from lapsing and to ensure continuing entitlement to any other "passported" benefits. Where a person is in receipt of more than one benefit, the reduction can be applied to any or all of those benefits. The regulations prioritise the benefits against which the reduction is applied and, because Housing Benefit is often the most important, the priority list starts with Income Support while Housing Benefit is the last benefit to which deductions are applied (WFIR Reg 12 (3-4)).