CHAPTER 4 Referral to New Deal options

If you do not find an unsubsidised job during your time in the Gateway, you will have to enter one of the New Deal options.

The intention is to stagger the timing of referrals of Gateway participants to New Deal options (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 99) These are as follows:

However, the Government has given an assurance that "this does not mean that options should be considered in any particular order or that some are better than others. The appropriateness of particular New Deal options depends upon the needs of the individual and the advice they receive during the Gateway. It is not the intention to artificially hold up referral to an option where this is clearly the right course of action" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 101).

Choice of options

By the end of the Gateway, if you do not find an unsubsidised job, you will be required to choose one of the New Deal options. Until the end of the 4-month Gateway period this choice should be voluntary. ES guidance states that "during the Gateway, referral to a New Deal option … will be voluntary. Jobseekers will be able to consider the options as and when they seem appropriate" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 104). As part of this you "will receive advice and guidance from [your] New Deal adviser" and, if you wish, you may be able to attend option "tasters" (see Chapter 3, page *).

The guidance emphasises that during the Gateway you will be given as wide a choice of options as possible and, wherever possible, you should be able to choose which of the four options you want to pursue a place in (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 105). However, the degree of choice you have may be limited because (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 105):

In these cases (i.e. where choice between options is less), "it may be possible to offer choices within options". For example, "different opportunities might be offered within the Environment task force option" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 106).

If you reach 4 months in the Gateway, are still claiming JSA, and have not started on an option then you will be required, by an ES New Deal personal adviser, to attend one. This should be discussed with you near the end of the Gateway. At this stage the final choice of which option is most appropriate rests with the ES adviser.

The referral process

The process of being referred to an option differs depending on whether you are choosing the option during the Gateway, or having an option chosen for you at the end of 4 months.

During the Gateway, you will be helped to decide which New Deal option you think you would like to pursue. You may be set on a particular option, or may find that a number of options interest you. In either case, you are strongly recommended to find out as much as possible about an option before committing yourself to it, because once you agree to attend the option you will not be allowed to change your mind or leave the option early without risking your benefit payments.

According to ES guidance, "some jobseekers may be unsure about the appropriateness of an option and may need to consider them further" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 119). Your two main chances to do this (for all except the Employment option) are attending an option "taster" (see page *) and discussing the option at a "referral interview" with the option provider.

Referral interviews

Following discussion with your New Deal adviser and perhaps one or more option tasters you will be expected provisionally to decide which option you would most like to pursue. At this point, your New Deal adviser will make an appointment for you to attend a "referral interview" with the option provider. You should be given or sent a letter telling you the time of the interview. At the interview you should discuss with the provider (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 122):

The provider will often be an intermediary and not be the actual organisation you will end up working for or studying with. Because of this, you should try to find out exactly what it is that the provider can guarantee to offer you, and visit the organisation where you will be working or studying (this is likely to count as an option "taster").

At the referral interview the provider may also discuss a start date with you, but you are under no obligation at this stage to decide for certain whether you want to accept a place on the option.

You will then have another interview with your New Deal adviser at which you will be asked what you thought of the option. Then the New Deal adviser should offer to arrange for you (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 136):

You may find out about as many options as you wish in this way, but you must make a final decision by the end of the 4-month Gateway period.

Referral to the Employment option

It is unlikely that the Employment option will be discussed with you during your first 2 months in the Gateway because the emphasis will be on getting you into employment without the use of a subsidy. After 2 months in the Gateway you become eligible for the Employment option and should be issued with a voucher verifying that, if an employer recruits you, that employer will receive a subsidy. You can use the voucher to market yourself to potential employers, although the ES or other organisations involved in delivering the New Deal in your area will also be contacting local employers to get them to participate in the programme.

In some circumstances, e.g. if you are clearly disadvantaged and unlikely to gain sustainable unsubsidised employment, you may be able to enter the Employment option before 2 months in the Gateway (NDPG (18-24), Ch 5, para 98).

Some Jobcentre vacancies will be open only to applicants who are eligible for the subsidy. Once you have your voucher you will be able to apply for these "New Deal vacancies" as well as regular vacancies. If you are interested in the Employment option then your New Deal personal adviser will probably suggest certain vacancies to you. You will still have to make an application and/or attend an interview with the employer in order to secure a place on the option, because a place on the Employment option is basically a job.

Compulsory referral at the end of the Gateway

If you have not voluntarily chosen an option by 4 months after your initial New Deal interview (see Chapter 3, page *) then your ES New Deal personal adviser will choose one for you and refer you to it compulsorily. You will be invited to a "pre-entry interview" immediately, rather than having a chance to discuss the option chosen for you with the provider at a referral interview.

The pre-entry interview and formal referral

While option tasters and referral interviews can be arranged by non-ES New Deal advisers, the pre-entry interview must always be undertaken by an ES New Deal personal adviser (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 145).

At this interview the adviser will first arrange a date for you to start on the option. If you are starting a job under the Employment option this will be the date the employer has agreed that you can start. On the other options, the date should be arranged "in agreement with [you] … and the provider" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 146), although if you have come to the end of the 4-month Gateway you may have no choice of start date. The start date will usually be within 2 weeks of the interview and should not be more than 6 weeks after the interview. You will continue in the Gateway and will still need to meet the availability and actively seeking regulations (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 151). If you leave benefit during this period, for example to start work, and re-claim JSA within 13 weeks of leaving benefit, you "will return to New Deal at the same point at which [you] left" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 152).

The adviser will then give you a "formal notification" which is a letter giving details of (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 156):

As soon as you have been given this letter you have been referred to the option and must attend and complete it or you will probably have your benefit cut (see Chapter 9). If you refuse to accept the letter, you will be told the start details verbally and the letter will be sent to you.

At the interview, the ES adviser will also arrange for your JSA payments to stop when you enter the option. If you entering the Full-time education & training option or a place on the Voluntary sector or Environment task force options paying benefit-plus-allowance then the adviser will arrange for the allowance payments to begin (see below).

You should also be given a copy of a booklet Rights and responsibilities (ND40), which gives details about allowances, on-going support on the option, and what you must tell the ES, e.g. changes of circumstances (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 182).

If you are going to start an Employment option job then you may not have time for a full pre-entry interview, in which case you will be sent the formal notification letter.

Financial implications of your choice of option

One thing which you should consider carefully when choosing an option is the effect it will have on you financially. The money you receive while attending your option depends on which option you choose (for full details, see relevant option chapters):

These variations mean that, depending on your circumstances, certain options will be more financially beneficial than others. For example:

Before deciding whether to accept an option which pays a wage, you should try to get a calculation of how much better off you will be in work (a "better-off" calculation), and compare this with the income you would receive on an option paying an allowance. Where an option can be provided on either a waged or an allowance basis (i.e. Environment task force and Voluntary sector options), "jobseekers can choose not to take up a ‘waged’ placement if doing so would financially disadvantage them" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 6, para 3i). Full details of the forms of payment can be found under each option (Chapters 5–7).

Before agreeing with you a start date for an option, your New Deal adviser should discuss with you the implications for your financial situation of taking the place. If the place offers a wage, the adviser should "discuss in detail what the impact will be to [you] if [you accept] the wage at the level indicated" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 121c). This will include providing you with a Working Families Tax Credit calculation if you have children, and advising you about claiming extended payments of Housing/Council Tax Benefit (see Chapters 6 & 7). The adviser should make sure you have "all the relevant factors to take into account before accepting the wage" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 136).

You are also strongly advised to get a better-off calculation from an independent advice organisation (see page *). Independent welfare rights advisers are likely to take into account a number of factors, such as in-work expenses and travel costs, which may be ignored by your New Deal adviser.

Transferring to another option

The Government has a planning assumption that New Deal participants will normally take part in one option only. Guidance says that the aim of the Gateway is to encourage the young person "to choose an option and stay with it" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 8, para 39).

However, the Government has taken on board concerns that some flexibility allowing participants to move between options will be needed. It has agreed that "in some exceptional cases, where the circumstances justify it very clearly, personal advisers will also be able to agree that [you] should take part in more than one option" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 8, para 39). New Deal personal advisers have been given examples of possible reasons why you might wish to change your option (NDPG (18-24), Ch 8, para 21):

Participation in more than one option in such "exceptional circumstances" is qualified by various rules, including the following (NDPG (18-24), Ch 8, para 39):

If you have "severe basic skills needs" it will be possible for you to spend a short period in the Full-time education & training option and to move on from that to any one of the other three options.

In addition, if you take up a place on the Full-time education & training option and you find that the course chosen is totally unsuitable for you then you "can move into an alternative course within the first month of this option". According to the guidance, this will apply only if you are "clearly on the wrong course and [are] not likely to benefit from continuing on that course". Also, "whenever possible, the study should continue with the same training provider" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 101-102).

Support while on a New Deal option

While on your option you "will have continued access" to your ES New Deal personal adviser. The adviser will provide support to you to help you with any problems on the option and to help you find a job.

In total, you are likely to have "the equivalent of one full day’s support while on [your] option". This is an average: some young people may require more than this, some less. However, you should receive, as a minimum, at least one "follow-through visit" from your personal adviser.The aim of this support is to (NDPG (18-24), Ch 8, para 24)