CHAPTER 3The Gateway
Everyone who joins the New Deal must first attend the initial stage of the programme called the Gateway. This element of the New Deal can last up to 4 months. It is designed to help those who are "job-ready" to move into "unsubsidised" employment and to provide other claimants with a "series of integrated steps" to help them choose the most appropriate New Deal option.
According to the guidance, the Gateway will aim to (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 3):
The length of time you spend in the Gateway depends on whether you ultimately move on to the next stage of the programme by taking up, or being referred to, one of four options. If you find a job or decide to sign off JSA for other reasons, this will result in your departure from the New Deal, regardless of what stage you are at in the Gateway (although you cannot avoid the programme by signing off for only a short period – see Chapter 9). Four months is the maximum length of time that you should spend in the Gateway before moving into a New Deal option (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 5f).
Who provides the Gateway?
As with all elements of the New Deal, the way in which the Gateway is provided will vary from one area of the country to another. Everyone, however, is allocated an ES New Deal personal adviser (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 8). The role of the adviser could be either:
With either model of delivery, there are likely to be some services for which you will be directed to providers other than the ES, for example jobsearch courses or "tasters" of options you are considering. The guidance stresses that the Gateway should be "geared specifically towards meeting the needs of local people" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 7a).
Benefit status in the Gateway
During the Gateway you will "remain on JSA and must therefore satisfy the normal entitlement conditions". You must "be available for and actively seeking work" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 1, para 13). As a result, you will have to continue to sign on and will be governed by all the JSA jobseeking rules and subject to the range of benefit sanctions. For an explanation of the different benefit sanction regimes applied in the Gateway and once you have either volunteered for or been referred to an option, see Chapter 9.
Your fortnightly signing-on should not be allowed to interfere with other activities you undertake in the Gateway, such as attending a short course or specialist provision (see below).
Once you are in the Gateway your jobsearch activity may be examined in more detail by ES staff and you may be offered more vacancies than before. The reason for this may simply be that you will receive more attention from ES staff once you join the Gateway. In addition, the ES has specific targets relating to job placements. The targets may result in pressure being put on you to consider a wider range of vacancies than was previously the case.
ES guidance specifies certain elements of the Gateway which must be available, regardless of local differences in Gateway provision. Not everyone will have access to all of these. The specific elements to which you have access and "the precise pattern of Gateway activity will depend upon [your] individual needs and circumstances" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 6) and this will be negotiated between you and your ES personal adviser.
Firstly, there are certain elements of the Gateway which must be provided to all participants (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 6a):
Secondly, everyone in the Gateway has access, if they want it, to (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 6b):
Thirdly, ES personal advisers and/or other agencies involved in delivering the Gateway can offer young people, according to need, specific measures from a wide range of other forms of help including (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, 5e-g):
Work Preparation (Employment Rehabilitation)
During the Gateway you might be referred to the Work Preparation (Employment Rehabilitation) programme. This training programme usually lasts up to 6 weeks, although in exceptional cases it can last up to 13 weeks. It is designed "to help people with disabilities into work … by addressing specific, employment-related needs … that prevent them from taking up work or vocational training" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 12). If you are eligible for early entry to the New Deal you may want to consider undertaking Work Preparation before you join the New Deal early (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 14). After the Work Preparation you could join the New Deal if you remained unemployed after 6 months. You can also undertake Work Preparation during the Gateway, but the "Gateway cannot be extended to cover periods of attendance on Work Preparation (Employment Rehabilitation)" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 16). The guidance states that Work Preparation should be arranged as soon as possible so that (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 18):
Whether you are choosing to join early or are already in the Gateway, only a disability employment adviser can refer you to a Work Preparation programme. If your New Deal personal adviser is not a disability employment adviser, s/he must refer you to one before you can go onto Work Preparation.
Some young people may be on what the guidance calls "specialist provision" from external providers when they enter the Gateway. The guidance (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 19-29) relates to programmes that are designed to improve "confidence, personal and social skills". Examples of organisations delivering these courses are given as the Fairbridge Organisation, Prince’s Trust Volunteers, Drive for Youth and the Amber Trust. Personal advisers are told to treat these programmes in the same way they would if you were doing voluntary work while claiming JSA. You must continue to be available for and actively seeking work, but the programme will be recognised as a positive measure to improve employment prospects. As with voluntary work though, it will not count as an actively seeking work "step". You should be supported in attending such courses and Gateway interviews should be arranged to keep "disruption to an absolute minimum" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 25).
Once you enter the Gateway the ES personal adviser will review the course and ensure that:
A Gateway course will be suggested in addition to the existing programme only if you need specific help, for example with basic skills, that the current provider cannot accommodate and the "personal adviser and the young person" have agreed that the Gateway course will significantly improve their chances of securing employment (our emphasis) (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 28).
Whilst on voluntary programmes you are still required to attend caseload interviews and participate in other New Deal activities, so that you can be notified of unsubsidised jobs and New Deal options as they become available.
The initial New Deal interview
The initial New Deal interview will always be with an ES New Deal personal adviser. If you have a health condition or disability, your New Deal personal adviser may be a disability employment adviser.
The content of the interview will depend on the way in which the Gateway is being delivered locally. If the ES is responsible for providing the Gateway, then you will have a full interview. If the Gateway is being provided by one or more outside organisations then you may have a shorter interview and be referred to the Gateway provider.
The adviser should "consider any additional requirements needed to aid communication", for example (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 256):
You should be paid travel expenses either before or "immediately after" the interview (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 257) unless the interview is on your normal signing-on day.
At the interview, the adviser should focus "very much on [your] needs … and helping [you] to agree an appropriate course of action" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 259). S/he should "make sure [you] make [your] own decisions" and should "listen first and make suggestions later" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 264).
The New Deal programme should be explained to you in some detail, including "the different stages, the options that will be available and any time limits". It should also be made clear to you at this stage that if you have not decided on an option by the end of the Gateway period you "will be required to attend the one [the adviser considers] most appropriate and failure to do so could result in a benefit sanction" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 260).
The adviser will then help you to examine your job goals and discuss how you are going to achieve them. Because the first aim of the Gateway is to get those who are "job-ready" into unsubsidised employment, this will be the adviser’s main consideration during the initial interview (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 296). The adviser may identify vacancies on a computer screen and suggest that you apply for them. Remember that you only have to apply for vacancies which meet the availability conditions you specified on the Jobseeker’s Agreement you signed when you first claimed JSA (for example, you may have agreed to be available Monday to Friday only). The adviser may also set you jobsearch tasks to undertake in your own time, such as researching local companies or applying for jobs from the newspaper.
The adviser may suggest that you take up one of the opportunities available within the Gateway. These opportunities are distinct from the New Deal options. They are forms of assistance which you can attend while still in the Gateway and signing on. They include the careers service, help with basic skills, being assigned a mentor and specialist services for people with particular problems such as ex-offenders or people who are drug dependent (see "Gateway opportunities" on page *). The guidance makes clear that "referral to these services will generally be voluntary" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 299). Only if you "wilfully and persistently refuse to attend a Gateway opportunity which [the adviser] feels is appropriate and reasonable" will you be forced to attend. To make the opportunity compulsory the adviser must issue you with a Jobseeker’s Direction – a written direction which makes clear that if you do not attend you will have your benefit cut (see Chapter 9).
During the interview, the adviser will also complete a New Deal Action Plan (see below).
If the Gateway is being delivered locally by an outside organisation then you will have a shorter interview which will cover many of the same topics but in less depth. You will then be given an appointment to attend an interview with the Gateway provider and will be given another appointment with the ES New Deal adviser.
The New Deal Action Plan and the Jobseeker’s Agreement
One of the main tasks of the initial New Deal interview is to complete a New Deal Action Plan. This should describe your job goals and "set out a range of activities which [you] will carry out over a period of time" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 269). For example, it may list interviews which you agree to attend with providers of specialist help, job applications you agree to make and jobsearch courses you agree to attend.
The Action Plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect actions you have taken and new things you agree to do. You, your ES New Deal adviser and any partner organisations involved in delivering parts of the Gateway will have up-to-date copies of the Action Plan.
The contents of your Action Plan should "as far as possible" be agreed between you and the adviser. The guidance states that "the more control the jobseeker has over what is included in their Action Plan the more likely they are to be committed to it" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 268).
You will be asked to sign the Action Plan to show that you agree to undertake the actions stated in it. It is very important to realise that "entering into a New Deal Action Plan is not a JSA entitlement condition and [you are] not required to sign it" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 284, emphasis added). You may want to refuse to sign the Action Plan because, for example, you feel that the adviser has given you something to do that you didn’t agree to, has pushed you into agreeing to do something or has given you too many things to do. If you are unsure about any element of the Action Plan discuss it with the adviser before signing.
Although "drawing up and acting upon the New Deal Action Plan is entirely voluntary", refusing to sign the agreement will not necessarily mean that you can avoid undertaking the actions specified in the Action Plan, for three reasons.
Firstly, if there are specific actions which the adviser thinks are reasonable for you to undertake the adviser can force you to do them by issuing you with a written Jobseeker’s Direction (see Chapter 9).
Secondly, the adviser could refer you to adjudication for a benefit sanction on the grounds that you are not available for or actively seeking work. If you are meeting the current terms of your Jobseeker’s Agreement (see below) in terms of availability for work and the steps you are taking to find work, then this action is less likely.
Thirdly, and most importantly, many of the actions specified in your Action Plan are supposed to be incorporated into your Jobseeker’s Agreement. The Jobseeker’s Agreement "must be realistic and must, if followed, offer [you] the best chance of finding work" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 302).
Changes to your Jobseeker’s Agreement
You should already have a Jobseeker’s Agreement when you enter the New Deal. Whether or not you agree to sign your New Deal Action Plan, the ES New Deal adviser will try to get you to agree to changes in your Jobseeker’s Agreement to reflect actions which the adviser thinks are reasonable for you to take to help you get back to work.
Changes to your Jobseeker’s Agreement can be made only with your consent, but if you refuse to agree to "reasonable" changes then your claim for JSA will be stopped. The decision as to whether or not changes are "reasonable" rests with an ES decision maker. Chapter 9 explains in detail what happens if you do not agree with changes to your Jobseeker’s Agreement proposed by the ES adviser.
The structure, number and length of subsequent New Deal interviews will vary according to individual needs and what has been agreed previously (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 339).
Advisers are told that "each interview must have added value" and they should not "go over old ground" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 340). Each interview is expected to involve (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 341):
Travel expenses should be paid to you for any interviews you have to attend at the Jobcentre unless they are at your normal signing-on time. They may also be paid for interviews at the premises of a partner organisation involved in providing the Gateway. The ES adviser should check if travel expenses are repaid by Gateway providers prior to you making the journey. You will need to provide evidence of travel in order to claim your travel expenses, e.g. a bus ticket (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 80).
There are a number of services which are available as part of the Gateway process, but which will not be appropriate for all New Deal participants. You can request to be given access to one or more of these services, or your New Deal adviser can suggest one to you.
Note that "referral to these services will generally be voluntary" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 299). Only if you "wilfully and persistently refuse to attend a Gateway opportunity which [the adviser feels] is appropriate and reasonable" will you be forced to attend. To make the opportunity compulsory an ES adviser (not an independent adviser) must issue you with a Jobseeker’s Direction, which is a written direction which makes clear that if you do not attend you will have your benefit cut (see Chapter 9).
Careers service advice
Independent careers advice and guidance should be available to all those who want it in the Gateway (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 5c). It will be delivered by a local organisation which specialises in such provision (it could be the local careers service or adult guidance service). "Qualified professional advisers can offer impartial and confidential careers guidance" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 93).
If you want advice, information and guidance on education, training and work opportunities, both within the New Deal and beyond, you may wish to take advantage of this service.
Your New Deal adviser (whether your ES adviser or from a partner organisation) may suggest that you attend the careers service. The guidance to advisers suggests that careers guidance is particularly suitable for people on the New Deal who (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 94):
According to ES guidance, psychometric tests, when properly used, can "help both those who have a clear realistic job goal and those with no clear job goal when the individual needs to know more about their strengths and weaknesses in relation to a particular job or area of work" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 90). Such tests are to be used sparingly within the Gateway because they "can only be administered and interpreted by appropriately trained people as poor feedback can be very damaging" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 91). This means that such tests will mainly be available through the careers service or from some ES advisers or ES occupational psychologists.
The guidance stresses that testing will not be appropriate for most Gateway participants and "that most advisers are able to assess a jobseeker’s competence for a job without the need for such further in-depth analysis" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 90). Also, "care must be taken in using such tests, especially with inexperienced test takers to avoid negative outcomes". For example, "people with poor educational experiences may be at a disadvantage with any paper and pencil tests" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 89).
Specialist services for participants with particular problems
ES guidance states: "some young people who are more disadvantaged or face particular problems will need help from specialist agencies/providers" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 345). You may be referred to such a provider for a short course of assistance during the Gateway, or the provider may effectively provide most of the Gateway to you.
Attendance is voluntary (unless a Jobseeker’s Direction is issued: see below) but if you have a specific problem it may well be in your interest to be referred because the provider will understand the difficulties caused for you by the problem. A specialist provider may help you to get through the New Deal and find a place on a New Deal option which you can manage.
Although some of the forms of specialist help are covered below, other forms of help for people with other problems may be available locally.
People with alcohol/drug problems
New Deal advisers "are not in a position to assess the nature or degree of problems facing people with drug or alcohol abuse". They will, however, "identify and appraise [your] ability to return to employment and refer [you] to the appropriate provider for specialist help" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 346).
Providers will "offer a service which will address the dependency problem and progress [you] towards the New Deal options". It is important to realise that being referred to a specialist provider does not mean that you can stay any longer in the Gateway than other people (maximum of 4 months) or that you can avoid attending one of the New Deal options.
As part of the service, you may be asked to undergo an assessment from a professional body to assess (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, paras 347-348):
Depending on the results of the assessment, the provider may offer you one or more of the following forms of help (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 348):
The role of the New Deal personal adviser "is not to counsel homeless people or take on the role of social worker". Rather, advisers should "have an insight into some of the problems that homeless people face" and be able to refer them to providers who can offer appropriate help (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 350).
Such providers "will normally offer homeless jobseekers a range of help to provide the best possible opportunity of securing a bright future, including employment". In addition "they will be in regular contact with local organisations who can provide assistance in finding permanent or temporary accommodation". Some providers, such as Foyers, "can also provide help with training and jobsearch" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 351).
If you are an ex-offender you are likely to be referred to a specialist agency and/or the local probation service for help with (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 354):
If you are carrying out Community Service Order or a statutory Court Order, or are under probation service supervision, then the specialist provider should "adopt a flexible approach to any commitments" this entails. They should "liaise with the probation service to identify the best way forward with employment or training, which allows [you] to continue with your service order" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 355).
People lacking basic skills
Before being referred to a specialist provider for help with basic skills you will probably be required to undertake a basic skills assessment at the Jobcentre or elsewhere (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 358). Details of what this involves are given above (page *). A copy of the assessment should be made available to the provider so that they can help you to tackle the areas with which you have most difficulty, e.g. reading, writing, numeracy or oral communication. In addition, providers are likely to provide help with your motivation, behaviour, attitude, personal skills and qualities (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 360).
People with dyslexia
New Deal personal advisers have been given information on dyslexia that was produced with the help of the Adult Dyslexia Organisation, the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyslexia Institute. Dyslexia counts as a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Therefore young people with dyslexia are entitled to early entry to the New Deal (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 366). The guidance stresses that dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty unrelated to intelligence or background. It also notes that people with dyslexia are often extremely resourceful in the way that they overcome it and that this should be seen in a positive way. The guidance concentrates on the importance of specialist help and the need for personal advisers to know about local provision and services for people with dyslexia (NDPG 18-24, Ch 3, para 373).
The Government expects that "a minority of jobseekers" may need additional help and should be able to draw upon a volunteer mentor (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 81). It is estimated that "around 10% of young jobseekers entering the Gateway will receive mentoring support" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 1). The guidance states that for young jobseekers to benefit from mentoring, they should:
Mentoring will typically start in Gateway and continue throughout your time on a New Deal option.
The mentor will be an independent, unpaid volunteer aged over 18. Your relationship with the mentor can last up to 6 months, but it is entirely voluntary so you or the mentor can withdraw at any time. The mentor should treat anything you tell them about your experience on the New Deal as confidential, unless you say otherwise (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 9). If you do have a mentor you will continue to have a relationship with the New Deal personal adviser.
Role of the mentor
A mentor should aim to help you gain the confidence and skills required to find and retain a job. The guidance has a list of possible areas which include:
According to the guidance, "the role of the mentor in Gateway will be to assist young jobseekers into employment". Although the mentor should ensure that his/her relationship with you is "friendly and supportive", it should also be "job focused". For example "a mentor will provide advice and support to a jobseeker who is nervous in interview situations, lacks confidence or needs help with presentational skills" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12 para 6).
The organisation of mentoring
There should be a mentoring co-ordinator in each New Deal delivery unit area. The co-ordinator is responsible for ensuring that there are suitable and trained mentors in each area. The co-ordinator’s role could include organising mentor training, maintaining a mentor register for local partnerships, matching young people referred to them with suitable mentors and offering support where difficulties arise in the mentoring relationship.
If you agree to see a mentor, the ES personal adviser will refer you to the mentoring provider. Your New Deal Action Plan should be updated, if appropriate, to reflect this (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 28). If you fail to turn up for mentoring the ES personal adviser will arrange an interview with you to discuss why you did not turn up. If you decide not to take advantage of mentoring after the initial contact you can still be re-referred by the ES personal adviser if you so wish (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 33).
If you chose to take part in a mentoring relationship you should be offered training which will be similar to that provided to a mentor. It will probably last no longer than half a day and will help you to become familiar with mentoring including how to make best use of mentoring. If you have a preference to be matched up with someone of your own ethnic origin or gender you should mention this to the ES personal adviser who is responsible for matching mentors and jobseekers (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 57).
You should meet the mentor in a place where you both feel comfortable. This could be at your or their workplace, the premises of the mentoring service or a non-work location like a cafe or sports centre. The needs of people with health conditions or disabilities must be taken into account when mentoring meetings are arranged (NDPG 18-24, Ch 12, para 60). If you meet in a place which involves any costs (e.g. a cafe) then you should not feel under pressure to spend more than you want. The ES may meet some expenses incurred as a result of taking part in mentoring, particularly for young people with health conditions or disabilities (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 70). Your ES personal adviser should know what help is available.
The ES personal adviser should notify your option provider that you have a mentor and may need to pursue your mentoring relationship whilst on the option (NDPG (18-24), Ch 12, para 11).
If you are unsure about which New Deal option to take, you may be able to attend a short "taster" of one or more options. Tasters are intended to (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 179):
Tasters will be available only for the Full-time education & training, the Voluntary sector and the Environment task force options, and not for the Employment option. Nevertheless, there may be an opportunity to try out jobs, including New Deal Employment option vacancies, through a Work Trial (see Chapter 6, page *).
A taster does not normally mean trying out the option for any length of time. Rather, it will typically involve (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 181):
Providers may also arrange open days when you can visit the provider along with other people in the Gateway to "discuss what participation in the option would involve and explore the range of opportunities available" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 181).
While on the taster you must remain available for and actively seeking work, unless the taster lasts for 3 days or more (NDPG (18-24), Ch 9, para 21).
Note that there is likely to be more than one provider of each New Deal option, so even if you know which option you want you may wish to try tasters of more than one provider to see which is best.
If you agree with your New Deal adviser to attend a taster you will be given or sent a letter telling you where and when to attend. Another interview with your New Deal adviser will be arranged for after the taster so that you can tell him/her whether the option was suitable. The adviser should then "discuss other options if [you] found the option inappropriate" and ask you to provide valid reasons (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 185c, emphasis added). If you fail to attend the taster the adviser will "discuss [your] reasons for not attending and what the next steps should be. Adjudication action is not required as attending a taster is voluntary" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 188, emphasis added).
What is voluntary and what is compulsory?
The guidance emphasises that as a general rule, the agreement of an Action Plan in the Gateway and encouragement for New Deal clients to follow it will be an "entirely voluntary activity" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 9, para 34). However, you may be subject to benefit sanctions if you refuse or fail to take up "reasonable offers of help". In practice this means that almost any part of the Gateway can be made compulsory, but in general compulsion should only be used as a last resort. The rules differ for different activities within the Gateway (see below).
If you have your benefit cut you have a right to have the decision reviewed and you can appeal against the decision. For details, see Chapter 9.
While in the Gateway you must continue to sign on as normal and must fulfil all the other conditions for receipt of JSA, which means that you must be available for and actively seeking work.
Attendance at New Deal interviews
The only New Deal interviews which are in themselves compulsory are "key" interviews with your ES New Deal personal adviser. You may have interviews with other providers of the Gateway, but these interviews are treated like any other services provided by non-ES organisations, and are covered in the section below. Key interviews "support the process of advancing people through key stages of the Gateway" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 317). You are required to attend these interviews and normal failure to attend action will apply if you do not. When and how often you will have to attend key interviews will be different for each person. However, you should expect to have one to (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 318):
It is expected that the majority of New Deal interviews during the Gateway period will be key interviews. If you fail to attend a key interview and do not show that you had a good cause for not attending then you are likely to have your JSA cut for 2, 4 or 26 weeks (see Chapter 9 for details of this sanction and how to show "good cause"). The same process for arranging key interviews and the same failure to attend action applies to postal claimants.
There may also be times when your New Deal personal adviser wishes to see you informally, e.g. to discuss how an interview for an unsubsidised job went. Attendance at such an interview is voluntary and so "failure to attend action" does not apply if you decide not to go (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 333).
The date and time of your key interviews will be written on a New Deal appointment card (ND6). New Deal personal advisers have been instructed not to write informal interview appointments on ES stationery.
Interviews and services provided by non-ES organisations
This section covers:
Attending either of these is voluntary unless:
Providers of Gateway services are required to keep attendance records and to inform the ES "where young jobseekers are not progressing satisfactorily". If you are believed to be "wilfully and persistently failing to attend a Gateway opportunity" which is felt to be appropriate, the ES adviser may decide to issue a Jobseeker’s Direction (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 301).
If you are unavoidably absent from any aspect of the Gateway being provided by a non-ES organisation then you should inform the provider of your reasons immediately. Providers are given "clear guidance on the amount of time a young jobseeker can be absent in certain situations whilst in the provision" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 425). If you are absent, the provider is required to send your ES adviser a form (ND29) detailing the absence and the reason for it. If you are absent for longer than the rules allow or in circumstances not covered by the rules you may be required to attend an interview with your ES New Deal adviser to discuss your attendance record.
Unless you have been required to attend the provision under a Jobseeker’s Direction or have agreed to attend in your Jobseeker’s Agreement it is not compulsory to attend. However, you do have to be available for and actively seeking work while in the Gateway. Your absence may mean that you are no longer considered to be available for and actively seeking work under the JSA regulations, in which case you could have your benefit cut.
There is "no time limit to the number of job interviews [you] can attend". The provider will monitor absences to ensure that they are "reasonable" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 426).
You are allowed up to one week at a time, for a maximum of four times in any year if you have a domestic emergency as described in the following circumstances (NDPG 18-24, Ch 3, para 428):
This period can only be extended if agreed by the ES New Deal personal adviser (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 429).
You are allowed "to take up to 2 weeks certified or 6 days self-certified sickness, without it affecting [your] participation on New Deal Gateway" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 431). If you are ill for longer than this you may be encouraged to claim a sickness benefit instead of JSA until you are better.
If you want to go on holiday during the Gateway you should contact your ES New Deal personal adviser before making arrangements. While on Gateway "normal JSA rules apply" to holidays (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 436). In brief, these rules state that you can continue to receive JSA while you are on holiday in the UK (including Northern Ireland) for up to 2 weeks out of every 12 months. You do not have to look for work during this period but you must be able to be contacted and you must remain available for work. To go for longer than 2 weeks you must be actively seeking work for the extra time. You cannot receive JSA while you are on holiday abroad. (For full details see the Unemployment and Training Rights Handbook – details on page *.)
The guidance states that "participants should be allowed additional time for religious/cultural festivals" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 437).
If your reason for absence does not fit into one of the above categories then it will be up to your ES personal adviser to determine whether the absence is allowed under the JSA regulations. (For full details of these regulations, see the Unemployment and Training Rights Handbook.)
Referral to New Deal options
You are required to choose and then attend one of the New Deal options by the end of the 4-month Gateway period. If you fail to do so, your benefit will be cut. The process of being referred to options is covered in Chapter 4.
Signing off JSA during the Gateway
If you sign off JSA during the Gateway (e.g. for a job or for any other reason) and then sign on again within 3 months, you will be picked up by the ES when you make your new claim and you "are entitled to the balance of time not used previously" (NDPG (18-24) Ch 3, para 135). For example if you spent a month in the Gateway, signed off JSA and then returned within 13 weeks, you will be taken back into the Gateway and entitled to a further 3 months in the Gateway. If you sign off for more than 13 weeks while in the Gateway you will not be eligible for the New Deal again until you have been unemployed for another 6 months unless you are eligible for early entry (see page *).
End of the Gateway
Your time in the Gateway ends when you leave JSA (see above) or when you are referred to a New Deal option. You should spend no more than 4 months in the Gateway. If you have not left JSA (for more than 13 weeks) or started on an option by the end of the 4 months, you will be allocated an option by your New Deal personal adviser and required to attend it. Details of the process of being referred to options can be found in Chapter 4.
Gateway to Work
The Gateway to Work, introduced in June 2000, builds on lessons learnt from 12 pilots launched in 1999. Additional activities in the Gateway to Work will include:
All New Deal participants may be required to attend the 2-week course.