CHAPTER 10 People aged 25 and over

If you are unemployed and aged 25 or over, you will still be able to participate in the existing range of Government programmes like Work-Based Learning for Adults (for full details see the Unemployment and Training Rights Handbook). In addition, the Government has introduced a new programme specifically for long-term unemployed people aged 25 and over. The national programme is aimed at people who have been unemployed for at least 2 years. This is covered in the first part of this chapter.

In 28 areas of Great Britain and the whole of Northern Ireland, there are also a number of pilot programmes which are testing different approaches for those who have been unemployed for between 12 or 18 months. For more details see page *.

The New Deal for Long-term Unemployed People

If you are claiming JSA and have been unemployed for at least 2 years then you will be eligible for the New Deal programme for the older long-term unemployed. Periods during which you received JSA whilst on Training for Work, Project Work or the New Deal for 18-24 year olds will count towards the qualifying period (NDPG (25+), Ch 2, paras 19-24). In many cases, you will be required to participate.

If you are in an Employment Zone

There are various arrangements in areas where Employment Zones (EZs) are in operation.

In most areas where the Zones have been established, the New Deal for 25+ and training programmes like WBLA have been suspended. So, EZs are the only way in which help is made available to long-term unemployed people aged 25 and over. If you join an EZ you can ask for access to the New Deal employer subsidy during the first 6 months of your EZ participation (NDPG (25+), Ch 3, para 38).

In some areas, there may be some residual ES operation in cases where the upper limit of EZ participation has been reached.

In Doncaster; Middlesborough, Redcar & Cleveland; and North West Wales participants will be referred to the Zone at random by the ES. As a result, not all the eligible participants will be referred to the Zone and the remainder will still be eligible for other Government programmes.

Exemptions

A small proportion of claimants will be exempted from participation. Those people whose behaviour represents a "significant risk to those around them" can be exempted only after "all other avenues of help have been considered and rejected" (NDPG (25+), Ch 2, paras 84-85). The Guidance estimates the numbers will be less than 0.3% of eligible claimants.

Exemptions can be made:

Some people, who have severe mental health problems or have built up a history of bad behaviour, may be exempted. Their behaviour, which may be affected by drug or alcohol abuse, may include:

ES staff are instructed to refer any claimant with behavioural problems to relevant organisations that might help tackle their problems. ES advisers will also consider alternative, more appropriate, benefits.

People with severe mental difficulties should be offered appropriate help and advice during the advisory process. This includes people who are severely affected by drug or alcohol abuse (NDPG (25+), Ch 2, para 100). In very exceptional circumstances, people can be exempted from the New Deal if their problems are so severe that:

Advisers are warned to take care when exempting a person from the New Deal for violent behaviour if the behaviour is considered a result or symptom of a disability. Because the jobseeker will be covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, an exclusion decision must be regularly reviewed by a New Deal Business Manager who must complete an exemption certificate in all cases.

Potentially violent long-term unemployed claimants will already be identified by the ES. Special postal arrangements exist for those claimants who are regarded as too potentially dangerous to attend ES premises. Although this status is not "given for life" and is reviewed at least annually, ES managers can exclude potentially violent claimants from the New Deal.

The four stages

The aim of the New Deal for those aged 25 and over is to help you find work or improve your prospects of finding employment. The help provided through this New Deal will, "depending on circumstances", last between several months and a year and will consist of four main phases (NDPG (25+), Ch 1, para 6):

Stage 1: Advisory interviews

The most important stage of this New Deal is a series of individually tailored advisory interviews. This stage is mandatory if you have been continuously claiming JSA or National Insurance contribution credits for more than 2 years.

You will only be invited to a New Deal advisory interview once you pass the "full year point" of unemployment. So, as you reach the point when you have been claiming for 24, 36, 48 months (etc.), you will be identified as ready for New Deal when you attend a fortnightly signing-on review. If you are already participating in a "caseload" programme like Jobfinder Plus, you will be transferred into New Deal.

Alternatively, you can opt for early entry if you meet one of two conditions (NDPG (25+), Ch 2, Appen 1, para 1-26):

If you have a disability or health problem and request early access to the New Deal you can be referred to the disability employment adviser who can help you access existing provision and specialist support and support you when you have finished on any of the New Deal measures. JSA rules allow you to restrict the hours you are required to work and these restrictions will also apply to jobs found through the New Deal. If you enter subsidised employment your employer will be able to receive the full subsidy if your health problem makes it impossible to take a job requiring the full number of hours. The wages paid will still have to be at least equal to the subsidy.

As with the New Deal for 18 to 24 year olds, anyone who chooses early entry, cannot "opt-out" at a later stage.

New Deal advisory interviews will be with an ES personal adviser, or a disability employment adviser where appropriate. Depending on your individual circumstances, the advisory process can last between 3 and 6 months (NDPG (25+), Ch 3, para 18). The average number of interviews for each jobseeker will be seven rising to a maximum of ten. The initial interview will last for one hour the other interviews will last 30 minutes. Many of the features of the Gateway for 18 to 24 year olds apply to this process, in which the adviser will provide (NDPG (25+), Ch 3, para 4):

Applying the JSA rules

Although attendance at an interview is compulsory, participating in the New Deal activity listed under Stage 2 is not. The ES guidance says that "agreement of an Action Plan and encouragement to follow it will be a voluntary process" (NDPG (25+), Ch 3, para 26). However, ES guidance also states, "New Deal carries responsibilities … as some of the provision available is undertaken whilst the [you] are on JSA it is essential that [you] understand the conditions under which JSA is payable and the possible consequences of not meeting these" (NDPG (25+), Ch 3, para 27). So your Jobseeker’s Agreement may be amended to reflect the New Deal Action Plan – in which case failure to fulfil these steps could result in loss of benefit.

But the guidance is also clear that the New Deal is "intended to allow people to consider and agree whether particular jobsearch and employment measures would help in the their search for work" (NDPG (25+), Ch 3, para 27). So ES advisers are told that "only in exceptional circumstances" (their emphasis) where someone "persistently refuses all offers of help" it may be necessary to issue a Jobseeker’s Direction which will require them to undertake an activity or lose benefit. What is more, this action "will never be used" to compel a claimant to undertake the Education & training option.

Stage 2: Range of further provision

If you haven’t found a job during Stage 1, you will be given access to a range of measures "to improve immediate job prospects". These will include:

Stage 3: Progression to other measures

Unlike the New Deal for younger claimants, the New Deal for people aged 25+ does not automatically lead to an option. Instead, there is a range of other intensive help if you are unable to find work quickly:

Stage 4: Follow-through

As with the New Deal for young people there will be a follow-through period (see page * for further details).

Employer subsidy

The operation and rules of the employment subsidy option for those aged 25+ are very similar to those of the Employment option described in Chapter 6. The main differences are:

Education & training opportunities (ETO)

Entry on to an employment-related course – which can last for up to a year –must be agreed with an ES adviser. In setting up this option, the Government says that education and training can help unemployed people improve their skills and get qualifications which will improve their chances of finding work. And it says that people who do find a job will have got "into the habit" of a lifelong learning process whereby they continuously update their skills (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 2).

Availability and actively seeking work

Whilst on ETO you will be treated as available for and actively seeking work during term time. This means that you may be offered work by the Jobcentre. If the ES offers you a suitable job, you must abandon or re-schedule the course to take up the job. But, before starting a course, your adviser will update the Jobseeker’s Agreement with you to establish what kind of permanent full-time work might be suitable. You can refuse any offer of work within a period of 4 weeks before the end of the course (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 93c)

You are not required to be available for or actively seeking work whilst you are taking exams (including re-sits) even if they are held after the course finishes (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 93c).

Eligibility and appropriateness

In making a decision about enrolling you on a course the adviser must first establish your eligibility and then establish that the course is appropriate.

To be eligible, you must have been continuously receiving payment of a qualifying benefit for at least 2 years or be covered by the "linking rule" (see below). Anyone with a claim that has been broken by, for example, a period of full benefit disqualification will not be eligible. It also means that some early entrants to the New Deal for the 25+ cannot start on ETO.

An Individual Training Plan must be drawn up and you must continue to meet JSA entitlement conditions. These include (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 93h):

In deciding if the course is appropriate, the adviser must take into account a number of factors (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 16):

What courses are acceptable?

ETO qualifying courses must be employment-related and not last more than 12 months (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 32). Like the FTET option for the under 25s, they must conform to Schedule 2 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (or Section 6 of the Scottish equivalent legislation) (see page *).

A higher education course can be considered only in exceptional cases and where it "demonstrably and significantly improves the jobseeker’s prospects of obtaining employment" (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 37). Courses which prepare you for higher education, normally referred to as "access courses", can be considered "where they will lead directly to a course for which there are jobs in the labour market" (NDPG (25+) Ch 5, para 36). If you undertake an access course through ETO you cannot undertake subsequent study under ETO.

You may able take a course which improves basic literacy in English or improves your English if English is your second language. You can also take a course to teach the basic principles of mathematics (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 36).

Your New Deal personal adviser should have a source of information which will help identify a relevant course. A college or other training organisation that is contracted by the ES to deliver ETO courses should also provide you with an advisory service which should be "objective and impartial" (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 45).

Help in meeting costs associated with attendance

ETO participants can receive additional help with their costs from the Discretionary Fund (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 48). The rules for this cover special equipment (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 53), exceptionally high travel costs (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 59) and childcare (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 63-73) and are identical to those for FTET (see page *).

ETO "linking"

In judging the length of continuous unemployment that determines your eligibility to enter ETO, "two or more jobseeking periods can be treated as one if they are separated only by periods:

Existing part-time students

If you are already undertaking some part-time study, it is possible for you to continue or complete your course (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, paras 28-30). The rules are the same as for under 25s (see Chapter 5).

Voluntary participation

The ETO option is not compulsory so you can decline to take a course. Once you start, however, there are penalties if you leave early without "good cause".

Each fortnight, you and the ETO course provider will have to sign a form that says you are attending the course and making satisfactory progress. You must send this form in with your fortnightly "signing on" declaration (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 111).

If you fail to attend your course or drop out without good cause, you will be subjected to a 2-week benefit sanction rising to 4 weeks for a subsequent "offence" in the same category within 12 months. If you lose your place on a course due to misconduct, unsatisfactory progress (but see list the list of good causes below) or poor attendance, you will receive the same sanction (NDPG (25+), Ch 5, para 38h).

You will have "good cause" and will not be sanctioned, if you drop out or fail to attend your course (SSA (ND) Regs 1998, reg 8):

Compulsory programmes

If you are on ETO and are referred to a compulsory Government programme which would conflict with your course, you will not be sanctioned for failing to attend the Government programme. The regulations say that as a participant on the option you will have good cause for giving up or failing to attend a Government training or employment programme if you would have been required to attend the programme at a time which would have prevented you from attending your course (SSA (ND) Regs 1998 reg 8).

Work Based Learning for Adults/Training for Work

The aim of WBLA is "to help adults without sustained Employment, including self employment, through work based learning" (TEC PP, Ch D, para D1).

A combination of work-based learning and other learning activities are available through WBLA including:

A small number of places are available for self-employment support, for employed-status adult apprenticeships and for training additional to that provided by the employer leading to at least NVQ/SVQ level 2.

On WBLA you should receive an Individual Training Plan, which is substantially similar to the New Deal Individual Training Plan (see page *). It must be regularly reviewed against your progress, and any changes to your plan must be agreed with you (TEC PP, Ch D, para D25.1).

You should be provided with "suitable alternative training if [you] have reasonable grounds for dissatisfaction, if [you] are not making satisfactory progress, or if the provider is no longer in a position to provide WBLA as agreed in your training plan" (TEC PP, Ch D, para D26). You should be consulted on any change to your existing WBLA programme or transfer to another provider.

If you leave WBLA because of sickness or pregnancy you can re-enter without having to re-quality (TEC PP, Ch D, para D27).

If you are a non-employed trainee you should receive a training allowance (equivalent to your JSA prior to joining WBLA) plus £10. If you are employed you should be paid a wage and given a contract of employment – for details see the Unemployment and Training Rights Handbook.

Basic Employability training

You may be able to undertake Basic Employability (BE) training within WBLA. BE training is designed to provide high quality training for those who do not have work disciplines, basic skills and work experience needed to enter and sustain employment (TEC PP, Ch D, para D6.1). To be eligible for BE training you must face at least two of the following barriers:

Once you have been accepted by a BE provider you should undergo assessment (over 4 weeks) and start activities set out in your Individual Training Plan.

25+ pilots

New Deal pilots have been introduced in 28 areas in Great Britain and the whole of Northern Ireland. The Great Britain pilot areas, and the different unemployment threshold at which they start is shown in the table overleaf.

All pilots will feature:

 

Unemployment threshold

Area

12 months

18 months

18 months and early entrants

Teesside (Tees North) *

 

 

ü

Tyneside North

 

ü

 

Rotherham

 

ü

 

Sheffield*

ü

 

 

South Humber

 

ü

 

Suffolk & Waveney

 

 

ü

Leicestershire

 

ü

 

Bexley & Greenwich (R)

ü

 

 

Camden & North Islington *

 

ü

 

Colchester

 

ü

 

Ealing, Hounslow & Richmond (R)

 

ü

 

Hackney & City

 

ü

 

Portsmouth & SE Hampshire *

ü

 

 

Southampton & SW Hampshire

 

ü

 

Bridgend & Glamorgan Valleys

 

ü

 

West Wales *

ü

 

 

Bristol & South Gloucester

 

ü

 

Cornwall

 

 

ü

Exeter & East Devon

ü

 

 

Coventry

 

ü

 

Hereford & Worcester

 

 

ü

Solihull

ü

 

 

Wigan

ü

 

 

West Lancashire

ü

 

 

Fife *

ü

 

 

Forth Valley

 

ü

 

Western Isles

ü

 

 

Lanarkshire *

 

ü

 

(R) Only half of eligible jobseekers will be included in these pilots. They will be chosen on a random basis.

* Pilots which will be delivered in only selected Jobcentres/areas

The Gateway

The Gateway last for a minimum of 6 weeks and usually for a maximum of 13 weeks, although it can be extended to 17 weeks for "participants with special requirements" (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 26). ES guidance provides no definition of the "special requirements", which are to be determined by the delivery partnerships.

During the Gateway you will have a series of advisory interviews with a named personal adviser who may be from the ES or a partner organisation (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 23). Some of these will be "key interviews" and you can face a benefit sanction if you fail to attend them. The Gateway process will provide access to measures to help you identify, overcome barriers to work and find employment.

During the Gateway you will be submitted to unsubsidised jobs and after 6 weeks will be eligible for subsidised employment.

During the Gateway you remain on JSA and therefore must continue to satisfy the entitlement conditions.

Employer subsidy

After 6 weeks in the Gateway you can apply for jobs which attract an employer subsidy of £75 a week for 6 months (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 34). In the pilot areas the subsidy is expected to be used in a variety of innovative ways. The Upfront Skills Shortage Subsidy (see page *) can be used in the pilot areas (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 5, para 13).

Intensive Activity Period (IAP)

The IAP is a mandatory programme, which lasts for 13 weeks or until you leaves JSA (if sooner). If you do not move into employment from the Gateway, you will be referred to the IAP. It is normally a "full-time work programme of work experience, guidance, training and jobsearch tailored to individual participants needs … thereby encouraging movement into employment, subsidised or unsubsidised" (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 30).

The guidance states that in exceptional circumstances you will not be required to join the IAP immediately the Gateway ends. This could be the case, for example, if you are entering hospital for surgery and will be claiming Incapacity Benefit. However, all cases except those listed below must be referred to the Business Manager for authorisation (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 5, para 30).

You may not be referred to the IAP if you are due to come off JSA within 3 weeks of the end of the Gateway because of (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 5, para 29):

However, in these cases, you can be referred to the IAP if you wish.

During the IAP you remain on JSA and therefore must continue to satisfy the entitlement conditions. You will receive your JSA (and any other benefits you are entitled to because you are unemployed) plus a top-up of £15.38 a week. In some areas the IAP can be extended, but only the first 13 weeks are mandatory and attract the top-up.

If you are engaged in part-time work, voluntary work or part-time study or have agreed limitations due to a disability or caring responsibilities, your "hours of attendance must be arranged to fit around [your] existing commitments (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 31).

Follow-up

If you enter (subsidised or unsubsidised) employment you and your employer will receive additional help to encourage your employer to keep you in the job (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 31). ES guidance provides no details of the additional help available, stating that it will be determined by partner organisations delivering the service.

Follow-through

If you remain on JSA after completing the IAP, or return to JSA within 13 weeks, you will enter a follow-through period. During this period you will have to attend advisory interviews and receive further vocational guidance. You will be given access to other ES programmes such as WBLA/TfW.

The pilots and ETO

The ES guidance states "ETO should only be used in exceptional circumstance" in consultation with the Jobcentre Business Manager (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 44). If you become eligible for ETO while on the pilot you are expected to remain on the pilot "as long as it does not interfere with [your] studies". If you leave the pilot to undertake ETO, once you have finished your studies you will be required to rejoin the pilot at the point you left it. If you are studying under ETO (started though the national New Deal 25+ and before the introduction of the pilots) you will taken into the pilot unless "the pilot would interfere with [your] study" (original emphasis) (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 42).

The pilots and WBLA/TfW

If you are attending WBLA/TfW you will not have to join the pilot.

If you are in the pilot you can be referred to WBLA/TfW during the Gateway, the IAP or the follow-through period.

If you require pre-vocational/basic skills training you can leave Gateway to join WBLA. You will receive a training allowance plus £10. You will retain your pilot eligibility and return to Gateway at the point you left. At the end of the Gateway you must move immediately to mandatory IAP for 13 weeks.

If you access WBLA during the IAP you will receive the £15.38 top up payment each week. The guidance states that a small number of people may continue their WBLA provision after the IAP period. They will no longer receive the £15.38 top up payment, but will eligible for training allowance plus a £10 top-up.

If you return to JSA within 13 weeks of leaving the IAP you may be re-referred to IAP or moved into the follow-through (NDPG (25+ November Pilots), Ch 1, para 120).

The pilots and other ES programmes

If you are attending other ES provision such as programme centres you will enter the pilot and continue to attend the provision during the Gateway.

Transfers

If you transfer to a pilot area from another pilot area you will continue on the pilot at the point you reached before transferring.

If you transfer from a non-pilot area, you will join the pilot, if eligible, at you next Restart date.

If you move away from the pilot area to a non-pilot area, you no longer have to take part in the pilot.

If you move house but remain in the same ES district you are required to continue on the pilot, but at a different Jobcentre if appropriate.