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19.06.13

60% of ex-claimants claim again within two years – PAC

The DWP lacks the information necessary to challenge performance of jobcentres effectively and to improve value for money, the latest Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report states.

The department does not measure how many people each centre helps into work, and does not have a complete understanding of why claimants leave the system. But figures show 40% of ex-claimants claim again within six months, and 60% do so within two years.

PAC warns that greater flexibility could make it easier for centres to ‘park’ harder to help claimants, and reiterates that the DWP is responsible for ensuring vulnerable individuals are able to claim the benefits they’re entitled to. The report states: “It is not acceptable to depend solely on libraries and Citizens Advice when local advice services are already stretched.”

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the committee, said: “On its own, the number of people who stop claiming benefits is a flawed measure of how effective jobcentres are. In 40% of cases, jobcentres do not know whether those who have stopped claiming have actually found work or not. 

“The DWP needs to be clear how it will measure the performance of jobcentres under Universal Credit and understand what happens to claimants. The Department needs this information to see whether its interventions are achieving a long-term reduction in the number claiming benefits.

“Jobcentres should have a degree of flexibility to deal with local priorities but the DWP does not know enough about what works and why. Information is needed on how different jobcentres are managing their caseloads so that good practice can be identified and disseminated.

“Local flexibility also opens up the possibility that harder to help claimants, such as those with disabilities, get ‘parked’. The Department needs to look closely at its ability to support disabled claimants, particularly given that these groups suffer poor outcomes under the Work Programme.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “At the same time as causing the longest economic slump in living memory, this government is turning the screw ever tighter on people who are out of work.

“We do not believe that sanctions work, they should be scrapped, and ministers should start fixing our broken economy and stop blaming those who are suffering as a result of their failed policies.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. HelenCobain

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