By Daniel Hunter
Work Programme leavers will be targeted by a hit squad of specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job.
Up to 5 specialist advisers will be based in individual Jobcentres dedicated to working with people not in sustained work after 2 years on the Work Programme.
Claimants will be given an end-of-term report from their Work Programme provider assessing what progress they have made and their ongoing needs, to inform their new adviser before facing the toughest Jobcentre regime to help them find work. At their first appointment they will have to agree a binding back-to-work plan laying out what they are required to do.
"The Work Programme is getting some of the hardest to help claimants into work despite a tough economic climate," Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said.
"We always knew that there would be some who would require further support after the Work Programme, which is why we’re introducing this intensive and uncompromising regime.
"We’ll be stepping up the pressure on claimants, who will be expected to attend the Jobcentre more frequently, with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work."
Claimants will be expected to be on a training scheme, Mandatory Work Activity placement or intensive work preparation within days of finishing on the Work Programme — losing their benefit if they fail to comply. An extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work, for instance counselling for people dependent on drug and alcohol.
Claimants will also have to attend the Jobcentre far more frequently than other jobseekers, with weekly signing on being routine and some people being required to meet their adviser every day.
The advisers, who will be focused on working with those returning from the Work Programme, will take a tough approach to monitoring whether claimants are sticking to their plan with anyone failing to participate losing their benefits.
The programme comes after Jobcentres involved in a trailblazer found that claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit.
Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching and to allow their adviser to check their work search activity online.
The tough sanctions regime will see anyone failing to comply with mandatory activity lose benefit for 4 weeks for a first failure, with penalties of up to 3 years for serial offenders.
The intensive support will last for 6 months, and will be used for all Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants returning from the Work Programme who need more intensive support.
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