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Employment and Support Allowance

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many and what proportion of (a) new and (b) existing employment and support allowance claimants will participate in progression to work pathfinders; (255114)

(2) how many and what proportion of (a) new and (b) existing employment and support allowance claimants will be covered by (i) progression to work pathfinders, (ii) invest to save pathfinders and (iii) personalised employment programme pilots;

(3) how many and what proportion of existing incapacity benefits claimants will be covered by the invest to save pathfinders.

One of the core recommendations from the Gregg review of conditionality was the creation of a new ‘Progression to Work’ group. Gregg recommends that this new approach should be for those people who may not be ready to work immediately, but who with the right mix of support and encouragement could get back into employment. This model would apply to employment and support allowance claimants (other than those in the employment and support allowance support group) and lone parents, and partners of benefit recipients, with children aged one to six. The Progression to Work pathfinders have been created as a result of this recommendation.

The claimants involved in the Progression to Work group will be required to actively engage with their adviser on an ongoing basis to consider, discuss and agree an action plan comprising activities they think will improve their prospects of moving back into work. They must then undertake these agreed activities as part of their own journey towards employment following directions from advisers where these are strictly necessary. This will be underpinned with recourse to sanctions for those failing to engage with support without good cause. However, although still in the Progression to Work group, lone parents and partners of benefit recipients, with children aged one and two will be encouraged, rather than required, to undertake work related activity and will not be sanctioned for refusing to undertake work related activity.

This pathfinder will cover approximately 10 to 15 per cent. of the new employment and support allowance claimants and parents with a youngest child aged between one and less than seven nationally. Based on current inflows, this equates to roughly 65,000 employment and support allowance claimants, 60,000 lone parents and 10,000 partners of benefit recipients each year. These pathfinders are anticipated to begin in late 2010 and last for two years. They are likely to be across six districts and delivery will be a mixture of provider led and Jobcentre Plus led.

The Progression to Work pathfinders will not cover any existing employment and support allowance claimants.

The Invest to Save pathfinders will not cover any new employment and support allowance claimants; it is planned that the pathfinders will cover existing incapacity benefits customers only, following migration to employment and support allowance. Based on published caseload projections, we estimate that approximately 17 per cent. of existing customers will be covered by these pathfinders. Estimates will be refined as part of the tendering process for the pathfinders and will be published at the Pre-Qualification-Questionnaire stage.

The Invest to Save pathfinders will not cover any existing employment and support allowance claimants; the pathfinders will cover existing incapacity benefits customers only.

We anticipate the Personalised Employment Programme pilots will, subject to the passage of legislation, cover approximately 6 per cent. of new employment and support allowance claimants. This equates to roughly 35,000 new employment and support allowance claimants annually, based on current inflows.

We anticipate that Personalised Employment Programme pilots will not cover any existing employment and support allowance claimants.