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Jobcentre Plus

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how, under its Employer Engagement Strategy, local resources in Jobcentre Plus will be matched to services required by major national employers; and how (a) consistency of service delivery across the country and (b) effective communication and liaison between specialist delivery teams will be ensured. (76510)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how, under our Employer Engagement Strategy local resources in Jobcentre Plus will be matched to services required by major national employers; and how consistency of service delivery across the country and effective communication and liaison between specialist delivery teams will be ensured. This is something, which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus has a National Sales Team that provides an account management service to our major national employers. The Account Managers work at a strategic level to develop and agree Service Level Agreements with these companies. These Service Level Agreements are communicated to geographically-based Account Managers who ensure that they are used as a basis to agree local solutions to meet individual recruitment needs. The same Account Managers are responsible for engaging with service delivery colleagues within Jobcentres to resolve any issues involving employer requirements or service delivery.

In addition to this, the National Sales Team is fully committed and engaged in the Employer Engagement Strategy at all levels of Jobcentre Plus through Vacancy Planning. Working with delivery colleagues, they are able to ensure that regional and district plans reflect the current and future needs of national employers.

In support of these activities Jobcentre Plus will shortly be introducing the Employer Relationship Management IT system, which will provide an unprecedented level of data on employers and the labour market in general. Analysis of this data will allow Jobcentre Plus to provide tailored services that meet the needs of employers.

Employer engagement strategies and marketing campaigns will all emanate from this new system and local resources will be channelled accordingly. Consistency of service will be ensured across the whole of Jobcentre Plus as access to the system will be restricted to key decision makers, such as the Account Managers, who manage the interests of the major national employers and will be able to communicate appropriate strategies throughout the organisation.

I hope this is helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken to improve liaison between Jobcentre Plus and (a) other parts of his Department and (b) other Government Departments and agencies. (76515)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the steps being taken to improve the liaison between Jobcentre Plus and (a) the other parts of his Department and (b) other Government departments and agencies. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Our new organisational structures, introduced in April, place a new focus on effective partnership working. At Board level this is provided through a Director of External Relations and Communication; and at strategic and operational levels we have external relations functions that maximise the effectiveness of our national, regional and local partnerships.

In particular we now have a team specifically responsible for leading on our relationships with the key governmental organisations with whom we work to deliver our shared agenda on social security and benefit issues affecting our customers. They are in the process of reviewing existing partnership agreements, setting up new ones where they do not already exist and reviewing and improving day to day liaison arrangements. Organisations within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) covered by this work include the Child Support Agency, Debt Management, the Disability and Carers Service and The Pension Service. Outside DWP the work covers Local Authorities, the Tribunal Service, the Veterans Agency and HM Revenue and Customs.

In parallel Jobcentre Plus works with a range of other Government organisations nationally to improve opportunities for people to move into and stay in work. These organisations include, for example, Regional Development Agencies, the devolved administrations, and the Learning and Skills Council. We also work closely on a wide range of issues with the Home Office's Prison and Probation Services (National Offender Management Service) and Immigration and Nationality Directorate. Opportunities are continually sought to strengthen liaison across all of these partnerships.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the introduction of the Adviser Achievement Tool into Jobcentre Plus. (76519)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question regarding the introduction of the Adviser Achievement Tool (AAT) into Jobcentre Plus. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The AAT was introduced in April 2006 to ensure all our advisers make an effective contribution to Jobcentre Plus’ aims, and to identify those advisers who may need additional help to achieve this. The AAT supports the new Job Outcome Target which introduces a change to the way performance is measured. All job outcomes will count towards achievement of this target, not just those achieved through Jobcentre Plus notified vacancies or financial initiatives. Advisers will no longer have individual points targets linked to job entries as part of their personal objectives.

The AAT has been designed to improve adviser performance and strengthen the support for advisers and their managers. It reflects the new approach to evaluating individual performance which is required under the new target regime. It is supplemented by individually tailored Improvement Plans which managers and advisers will use to address personal development issues. It is intended that the AAT will provide an indicator of advisers’ performance and will help their managers to regularly monitor adviser achievements.

Adviser managers will not rely on the AAT alone to deliver performance improvements. Other activities such as mandatory observations from the Quality Assurance Framework must also be undertaken on a regular basis, in conjunction with agreed individual objectives as part of the Department’s internal Performance Development System.

We will be evaluating and refining the AAT throughout the year as the Job Outcome Target system becomes more established and we learn more about the blend of quality and productivity information needed to optimise individual adviser performance.

I hope this is helpful.