Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Work and Pensions Committee : ‘Concerns’ over “Policemen” Work Coaches and Work and Health Programme.

with 40 comments

Image result for jobcentre plus work coach I'm daniel Blake

Job Coach Client.

Work Coaches: A personalised in-work service.

Work Coaches are front-line DWP staff based in Jobcentres. Their main role is to support claimants into work by challenging, motivating, providing personalised advice and using knowledge of local labour markets. This involves conducting work-focused interviews and agreeing tailored “Claimant Commitments”.70 A job description is shown in Appendix 1. At February 2016, 11,000 whole-time equivalent Work Coaches71 supported nearly 745,000 out-of-work claimants across Great Britain.72 Each Work Coach is responsible for a caseload of around 100 unemployed claimants and conducts 10 to 20 claimant interviews per day.73

Job Centre Plus reforms currently ‘front-loaded for failure,’ MPs say.

A new approach to the role of work coaches in the Job Centre Plus (JCP) programme is needed as its approach shifts to helping more complex cases, the Work and Pensions Committee has said in a new report.

The report said that changes such as the introduction of the Work and Health Programme and Universal Credit mean that JCP will deal with more claimants ‘in-house’ instead of through contracted-out provision and with more claimants with complex needs, such as health problems and disabilities.

However, it said that these changing needs were combined with a move to a “generalist” model for work coaches.

Work and Pensions Committee says it has grave concerns over both the challenges faced by Work Coaches in Jobcentre Plus (JCP), and the flagship Work and Health Programme.

(Hat-tip to Benefit Tales.)

Committee Chair Frank Field said:

“The government is basing the future for the new Job Centre Plus advisers on too narrow a financial and administrative base. It is in danger of missing this opportunity to create a world-class first in respect of its job advisers, and a world-leading employment support programme for disabled people in Job Centre Pluses by not thinking through the demands to be made on what is, in reality, the same old system financed by a much reduced budget.”

Against the backdrop of a much changed labour market, the delayed roll-out of Universal Credit and the scaling down of contracted-out welfare-to-work programmes, JCP will be expected to provide employment support to a broader and more challenging caseload of claimants, including those with disabilities, mental health conditions, and the long-term unemployed.

Work Coaches

In the report summary this is well-worth noting,

Culturally, JCP must ensure that it becomes an inspirational place from which individuals find and succeed in work. JCP Work Coaches—front-line advisors—will play a pivotal role. Too often, JCP staff have been cast in the role of policemen rather than supporters who help people progress to and in work. Major changes will be required of Work Coaches. There is a case for some Work Coaches to specialise in helping specific claimant groups, while others take a higher caseload of more general cases. There should also be a clearer route for Work Coaches themselves to progress in their careers in providing tailored employment support, reflecting the increased demands of today’s labour market.

The success of the new Work Coach model will depend, in part, on Coaches’ awareness that they are not experts in all areas—including disability and health conditions. They must, therefore, embrace working alongside more knowledgeable third parties and charities. To make a success of its new, expanded role, JCP will have to ensure that it is open to working in ways that are increasingly flexible, adaptable and experimental. It must strengthen working relationships with employers and other external partners in order to ensure that specialist support is available to claimants when it is needed. It will also need to demonstrate an ability to learn on the job and adapt its provision, both to changing labour market circumstances and as it learns what works in supporting claimants. This new role will also need to be reflected in its opening hours.

Previously, many of these claimants would have been supported outside JCP, through the contracted-out Work Programme and Work Choice. Whether the employment support that the Department offers to these claimants is successful will largely depend on its Work Coaches – front-line support staff. The Committee identifies several concerns about this approach:

  • Work Coaches will increasingly have to provide positive coaching and address claimants’ barriers to work, yet many claimants currently view Coaches as “policemen” due to their role in administering sanctions: two potentially conflicting roles
  • Work Coaches will be generalists who support claimants with a wide range of needs. However, addressing their claimants’ barriers to work requires specialist skills and knowledge that many Work Coaches currently lack, and have little incentive to develop
  • To compensate for their lack of specialism, Work Coaches will be increasingly required to identify and refer their claimants to appropriate external support: for example, from charities and third parties. This, in itself, requires a level of specialist knowledge
  • The requirement to refer to third-party support, alongside the more complex caseloads and extended support role, will place increasing pressure on claimants’ appointment times with Work Coaches

The Committee is also concerned about the “manifold reduction” in external support that the Work and Health Programme represents. It will have a budget of £554m over its lifetime: substantially less than the estimated £1.5bn that was spent on disability employment through the Work Programme and Work Choice it replaces. Witnesses told the Committee that this reduction in programme capacity meant that many of those who might benefit from participating would be unable to access it. Given the Government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap, this is a disappointing development.

This is also worth noting:  Conclusions and recommendations.

3.We recommend the Department set out how it will support Work Coaches to strike the right balance between coaching and conditionality—potentially conflicting elements of their role. Work Coaches should be given more comprehensive guidance on how to adopt a flexible approach to conditionality for vulnerable groups of claimants, such as those with health conditions or housing problems. The guidance should include multiple examples illustrating the circumstances in which different levels of conditionality, including frequency of meetings, would be appropriate and effective. (Paragraph 22)

4.We recommend that the Department monitor the extent to which claimants consider Claimant Commitments personalised. This should include adding a question on this topic to the annual Claimant Experience survey. (Paragraph 23)

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The success of the Department’s approach will depend on supporting people who, in many cases, are long term unemployed or have substantial health issues back into work. Many of these may have seen Jobcentres as enforcement agencies, and their staff as police, and have been poorly served in the past. Instead of building on examples of successful programmes such as Work Choice, the Department is overseeing a massive reduction in the spending on the replacement Work and Health Programme. Compensating for this will require a massive cultural shift and practical shift in JCP, enabling it to become a place that supports real progress to, and in, work. We are not convinced that JCPs and Work Coaches will have the necessary resources, skills and expertise to do this, and especially not at the rapid and ambitious pace that the DWP is expecting.

The Government has expressed the need to reform capitalism, and to “make work pay”. We welcome the Department’s willingness to take a flexible approach to JCP’s services, and to try to support those who have been inadequately served by the current system. But we have grave concerns that shifting a raft of new, specialised demands and requirements onto JCPs, without significant training and preparation and with greatly reduced resources, is simply front-loading this brave new world for failure.”


Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2016 at 3:59 pm

40 Responses

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  1. The changing labour market, it sure is, many people don’t yet know what this will involve though, – what will you being next year.

    news seeker

    November 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    • – Be

      news seeker

      November 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    • Looking into the crystal ball I see a proliferation of minimum wage zero hour contract and temporary part-time vacancies, with Work Coaches given demanding targets to shoehorn citizens not in receipt of 35 hours work on the minimum wage into one, two or several of these shitty positions in order to make up those hours even though, financially, they will used, abused, see no benefit and remain dirt poor forever.

      Mystic Meg

      November 16, 2016 at 9:16 am

  2. code of conduct’ for the UK Government’s benefit sanctions regime.

    The bill – which will be debated in the Houses of Commons on December 2nd – would require Jobcentre advisers across the UK to take into account an individual’s circumstances before issuing a sanction and therefore, cutting off their financial support.

    Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, chose to introduce the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill 2016-17 after hearing from many of her constituents who had suffered hardship as a result of an unfair sanction and through her experiences on the Work and Pensions committee of the differing ways that Jobcentres across the UK implement sanctions.


    neal marshall • 6 hours ago

    The DWP should have to go to court to impose sanction (innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent). Sanctions are imposed at will by JCP, the claimant has to take them to court, which can take months. Meanwhile they have no money

    news seeker

    November 14, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    • Thanks for that News seeker, that would be a first step.

      Andrew Coates

      November 14, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      • Yeah, a retrograde step!


        November 14, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      • Mhairi Black wants to reform the welfare system, and she has a cunning plan [VIDEO]

        Mhairi Black, the UK’s youngest MP, wants to reform the welfare system, and she has a plan. But she is appealing for your help in order to make it happen.

        Through a private member’s bill, Black is planning to try and regulate the way sanctions are implemented against benefit claimants. And she has launched a public consultation on the bill through a video.

        She starts by explaining what a private member’s bill is in her typical down-to-earth way:


        news seeker

        November 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      • Wonder why Johnny Void hasn’t typed up an article from his Barbados hide-away lauding this Bill and praising wee Mhairi? Because this Bill of wee Mhairi’s is a crock of shit!

        Left Foot

        November 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      • Did the Void have some kind of bust-up post-Brexit?

        I think we should be told….

        Andrew Coates

        November 15, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      • It appears that the Void has indeed been sucked into the Void. You know something has happened when even this site has overtaken in number of articles being posted 😀

        Black Hole

        November 16, 2016 at 12:44 am

    • It will be interesting to see what happens with sanctions if and when the Scotch Parliament (wee Mhairi’s SNP) take full control of out-of-work benefits? Will sanctions still be in the mix – as “last resort”. What’s the betting. All the mainstream political parties expect Class War support sanctions even wee Nicola’s SNP. At the Tories have to decency to say things out loud. No BS with the Tories. As for Mhairi Black, she is nowt but another charlatan lining her pockets on the backs of the poor.

      Mhairi Black's Boxer Shorts

      November 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    • Mhairi Blacks’ Bill wouldn’t have made one iota of difference to David Clapson since he wasn’t in a ‘vulnerable’ group. It wouldn’t have made one iota of difference to Daniel Blake either. Mhairi Black is a feminist and this Bill is primarily aimed at removing single parents (women) from the sanctions regime. And all by shamefully hijacking the cruel death of David Clapson at the blood-soaked hands of the DWP. And the ‘disabled’ (those on ESA) also see a chance of securing ‘protection’ from sanctions for themselves. Mhairi Black, ‘disability groups, women’s groups don’t give a flying fuck about the David Clapson’s, Daniel Blake’s of this world – they are a means to an end.

      This Bill should NOT be supported by the ‘mainstream’ unemployed. i.e. those on JSA and not in a so-called ‘vulnerable’ group. Going down this road will make it even harder to secure and end to sanctions – without exception. Exempting so-called ‘vulnerable’ groups e.g. single parents and the WRAG group of ESA from sanctions will make life a damned sight harder for the David Clapson’s and Daniel Blake’s of this world as they are cut adrift, forgotten about and left to die.

      It is to be hoped that Gill Thompson (David Clapson’s sister) sees through the shenanigans of all these self-interested groups. shenanigans.

      D Greer

      November 14, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      • Too right! The more the merrier! 😀 The more targets DWP cock roaches have the less chance of a sanction arrow hitting an individual claimant 😀

        Robin Hood

        November 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      • There was a report issued recently that stated that Home Office officials who were against the death penalty advised the Home Secretary of the time to allow the execution of Derek Bentley with the desired intent that it would sway opinion against capital punishment and speed up the process of abolition. And it was probably the case with Ruth Ellis. Although too bad if you happen to be the sacrificial lamb to the slaughter for the ‘greater good’

        On the surface it may sound kind of twisted but the same logic can be applied to the campaign for a abolition of sanctions – without exception. Once you start creating so-called vulnerable group who are exempt from sanctions, it is game over. The ‘non-vulnerable’ groups are going to be cut adrift to suffer in isolation and silence. Creating ‘vulnerable’ groups wont prevent David Clapsons and Daniel Blakes dying at the blood-soaked hands of the DWP. It like the twisted, psycho hangman Albert Pierrepoint said: “You can make an omelette without breaking an egg.”


        November 15, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      • Fucking hell!

        Ant Middleton

        November 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      • Well, I for one am Kool and the Gang about anything and anybody who can stop single parents (some of which are male) from ending up in Queer Street, with their children, because of a sanction. Nobody responsible for children should ever be sanctioned. So for me it’s a thumb’s up for Ms Black or anybody trying to reduce the suffering of anybody in society.


        November 15, 2016 at 7:40 pm

  3. Reblogged this on sdbast.


    November 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm

  4. In my experience the only thing that Work Coaches do is to put pressure on you to keep up a “work search” and sanction you if you are not diligent enough, in their opinion, or make a mistake like being late for an appointment. They also refer you onto programmes, like the defunct Work Programme, as determined by DWP rules whether these programmes are helpful or beneficial to you or not. I don’t know of anyone that has received “individual tailored help” from any Work Coach at any Jobcentre, although I suspect there must be some really good Coaches who have gone the extra mile to assist someone. Mostly though Jobcentres seem to be scrutinising claimants in order to keep them on their toes and stressed out about what might happen if they step out of line.

    It is possible I’ve been unlucky but based on my conversations with other what I describe above is standard.


    November 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

  5. Anti-homelessness helpline now receiving call for help every 30 seconds, – shelter

    A helpline run by an anti-homelessness charity now receives one call asking for help every 30 seconds, new figures reveal.

    Shelter’s advice line has seen the volume of calls rise by 50,000 in the past 12 months, with one in four cases taken on by the line from people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home within 28 days.

    In August this year the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee warned that the Government’s welfare reforms had played a significant role in driving up homelessness figures.


    news seeker

    November 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm

  6. MP Frank Field calls for five-day target to process applications, saying too many being left for too long without support.

    Bureaucratic delays have left hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants struggling without income for weeks after being made jobless, forcing many to turn to food banks, according to the chair of an all-party MPs’ group on hunger.

    Over the past 12 months, more than 90,000 people waited more than three weeks for their unemployment benefit applications to be processed, while 242,000 waited more than two weeks, according to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) figures obtained by Labour MP Frank Field.

    A DWP spokesperson said, who cares.


    news seeker

    November 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    • Can’t be talking about Universal Credit then where EVERYONE has a “waiting period” of one week without any right to any help from the state at all followed by a minimum period of FOUR WEEKS before they get their first payment. In point of fact, disgracefully, most people have to wait LONGER than FIVE WEEKS before they get a penny by way of Universal Credit! Eight or even ten weeks without any help whatsoever is quite common and although you can sometimes get an advance you get it by way of a loan which you have to pay back in dribbles out of your Universal Credit if/when you get it.


      November 15, 2016 at 3:32 pm

  7. “massive blame deflection exercise” May blames the Bank of England for rising inequality in the UK..


    news seeker

    November 15, 2016 at 4:27 pm

  8. I got interviewed by a spectacularly dim bulb this afternoon, at Ipswich Job Centre, who accused me of not applying for a job that I’d had an interview for. This was all recorded on Universal Job Match* by me so the stupid cow had no excuses. I fully expect to get a brown envelope through the door in the next few days telling me the usual lies that these feckwits come out with and I’m going to get sanctioned. Fortunately I’ve got plenty of proof.

    *Yes I know I should block access but I got threatened with multiple sanctions of up to three years last December for doing that and I can’t be doing with the aggravation. I’ve had mental health problems in the past and I don’t want them back thanks.


    November 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    • Working Links tried this exact same shit. These knobheads accused a ‘customer’ of not applying for a job and raised a doubt with the DWP which was quickly quashed when the ‘customer’ sent the ‘decision maker’ a copy of the rejection letter following an interview for said job. 😀 This is how thick those bastards who work for Working Links are. And they have the cheek to call themselves ‘consultants’, well it does sort of rhyme with something 😉

      Working Links = SCUM!!

      November 15, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      • consulta<b<nt 😀

        Working Links = SCUM!!

        November 15, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    • consultant

      Working Links = SCUM!!

      November 15, 2016 at 5:04 pm

  9. My two cents. Aims to improve things? Yeah Right.

    As they used to say back in the day [yes my school days were long long ago] Codswallop.

    Why? I need only bring up the fact DWP is rushing through the recruitment of 100 new “Disability Legal Advisors” for the Tribunals whose sole task is to deny benefits to those most in need.

    Now IF there was a direct recruitment of DWP staff for the needed areas I would believe that there would be a change for the better in the future… Oh… wait didn’t DWP used to employ directly staff with these specialised skills but got rid of them en mass?

    Ah well back to the drawing board.


    November 15, 2016 at 5:37 pm

  10. Homes Under the Hammer – to move to 11.15am !

    From Monday 5 December , Homes Under the Hammer will move, for the first time in 10 years, to a new slot at 11.15am.

    Breaking News

    November 16, 2016 at 2:09 am

    • Fucking hell!

      Ant Middleton

      November 16, 2016 at 2:38 am

    • WTF! That is going to knock benefit claimants out of their comfort zone!

      Life on the Dole: Daytime TV

      November 16, 2016 at 9:18 am

      • Get out of your Comfort Zone ! – how that brings back happy memories of being shouted at on ‘training’ schemes……

        Andrew Coates

        November 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

  11. An intelligent seven year old child could come to a more informed conclusion of this Government’s efforts or rather lack of imagination when dealing with the unemployed than the Joke of an Individual Frank Field, the man is a complete an utter drip, I suggest he visits Germany and observes how much more they value their workforce ; reskilling redundant workers in regional centres throughout the country, instead of demotivating and demoralising individuals with useless schemes and encouraging Fraud on an Industrial Scale by Companies or Providers as the Department of Work and Pensions prefers to call its Contractors, congratulations Cameron and co on Deskilling a once prosperous Industrial Nation. David Penson Bracknell Berkshire

    David Anthony Penson

    November 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm

  12. Treadmill families’ going nowhere, says social mobility report.

    It says the government must work with large employers, local councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships to bring high-quality job opportunities – backed by financial incentives – to Britain’s social mobility coldspots

    High quality jobs!

    The report also calls for an end to unpaid internships, arguing that work placements lasting more than four weeks should be paid at the minimum wage.

    Four week placements then.

    The commission says the problem is not just social, but also geographical, with a widening divide between the big cities – particularly London – and the many towns and counties being “left behind economically and hollowed-out socially”.


    State of the Nation 2016:

    Social Mobility in Great Britain

    212 pages.


    news seeker

    November 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm

  13. Unemployment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37997713

    Posted by AC

    “Unemployment figures are a hoax always were.
    Would rather see a report on how much tax taken from paye as increases in this part of society is the only real way to see the con.
    I have always said the ONS figures are crap due to the way the collect info this has nothing to do with Brexit or Remain the figures are BS , ONS is a Tory puppet”

    news seeker

    November 16, 2016 at 1:16 pm

  14. Many people arguing about the LAW, funny though.

    Brexit vote ‘not legally binding’ says Supreme Court judge.

    Lady Hale is one of the Supreme Court judges hearing the Government’s appeal against the legal challenge to Brexit next month.


    news seeker

    November 16, 2016 at 4:43 pm

  15. The precarious world of work on the increase.

    In the latest in a series on the UK’s increasingly precarious world of work, we reveal how many institutions are charging higher student fees while more than half of lecturers are on non-permanent or hourly-paid contracts.

    The investigation is part of a series of articles published in the Guardian this week about the growing numbers of people in Britain who find themselves in precarious work. The figures come from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and have been analysed by the University and College Union (UCU). They show that within the Russell Group, the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick have the largest proportion of frontline teaching staff on short-term or zero-hours and other flexible contracts. At Birmingham, 70% of teaching staff are on insecure contracts, while at Warwick it is 68%


    news seeker

    November 16, 2016 at 4:55 pm

  16. […] Work and Pensions Committee : ‘Concerns’ over “Policemen” Work Coaches and Work and Health … […]

  17. One Question Nobody Has Asked Or Government Mentioned Or Alluded To:- Will The State Pension Be Put On To UC. Forcing Everybody To Be On Line ?. Secondly. Following recent mega hacks and DDS on certain websites- What if UJM goes down. We can’t get on to it. Not our fault will there still be sanctions and will a hack be admitted to by the dwp.

    Northolt Boy

    November 30, 2016 at 10:03 am

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