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Jobcentre Plus: Interviews

Volume 493: debated on Friday 12 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how long on average a jobseeker's interview with a personal adviser (a) for initial assessment, (b) to make a jobseeker's agreement, (c) to sign on and (d) for other purposes lasted in the latest period for which figures are available. (271623)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how long on average a jobseeker's interview with a personal adviser (a) for initial assessment (b) to make a jobseeker's agreement (c) to sign on and (d) for other purposes lasts. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Everyone making a claim for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) has a one-to-one interview with a personal adviser to assess their circumstances, discuss and set in place a Jobseeker's Agreement and make sure they have information about and access to the help they need. The average length of this interview is 40 minutes, but the actual time taken will vary depending upon individual customer needs.

Following the new jobseeker interview, customers are usually required to attend face-to-face fortnightly jobsearch reviews, the purpose of which is to make sure they are actively seeking work (and therefore entitled to JSA) and to see what help, if any, they need. The average time allocation for these contacts is 7.5 minutes, but the actual time taken will vary depending upon customer needs. Following the new jobseeker interview, many people find work very quickly (about 60% by 13 weeks) and need little, if any, additional help, so jobsearch reviews will involve a limited discussion to make sure people are actively seeking work and making best use of appropriate vacancy sources. Other customers will need more support in which case jobsearch reviews will take longer.

For those people who do not find work quickly, a review is undertaken at or around 13 weeks. The average length of this review is 20 minutes, but the method of delivery and duration of contact will vary, depending upon individual needs. The process usually involves a one to one discussion with an adviser, particularly where the Jobseeker's Agreement needs revising and the customer needs more help to agree how best to increase their chances of finding work, but group sessions may also be used to give general information about access to jobs and services to help improve job prospects. Following the 13-week review process, people continue to receive regular jobsearch reviews, but for a period of six weeks, these are on a weekly (rather than fortnightly) basis.

As part of the recently announced six-month offer, all customers reaching six months unemployment are now allocated a personal adviser who will see them regularly to help prepare and follow through an action plan, which will offer the best chance of leading to a job. The amount of adviser time allocated for the initial interview is 50 minutes, though the time actually taken will vary depending upon individual circumstances and what is decided and agreed will happen next. Following the initial interview, advisers have an average of three hours contact time for each customer, which is used flexibly by advisers to suit individual customer circumstances and needs.