My honourable friend the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform (Jim Murphy) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce today my plans to roll out the successful Pathways to Work service in order to provide substantially more support for all new and repeat incapacity benefit customers to return to work. This is a significant step in our plans to help a million people move off incapacity benefits over the next10 years as outlined in our Green Paper, A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work.
To date Pathways to Work has helped around 25,000 incapacity benefit customers in just 17 districts return to work. We will build on those successes as we roll out the pathways service nationally to all new and repeat incapacity benefit customers.
Rollout will start on 30 October 2006 when we will introduce the pathways service in three more Jobcentre Plus districts giving access to a third of all new and repeat incapacity benefit customers. The new districts are Greater Mersey, Staffordshire, and Eastern Valleys (part of South Wales Valleys).
In December, we will extend the Jobcentre Plus pathways service to the remaining areas of the five, recently enlarged, existing pathways districts to give 40 per cent of all new and repeat incapacity benefit customers access. The areas in the five enlarged districts are Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Northumbria (other than Gateshead), remaining parts of Highland Islands, Clyde Coast and Grampian, Dorset and Somerset, and Sheffield.
In October 2007, private and voluntary sector providers will start to help to deliver the pathways service, extending to the remaining 60 per cent of new and repeat incapacity benefit customers by April 2008. We will use providers because our good partnership working with them on other initiatives has shown to be very effective, particularly when we offer them outcome-based contracts and payment by results. Providers will engage with customers after their initial work-focused interview.
Providers will start delivering the pathways service to customers in 15 Jobcentre Plus districts in October 2007. The 15 districts are Greater Manchester east and west, Cardiff and Vale/South-East Wales, Forth Valley Fife Tayside, North Wales & Powys, Black Country, City and East London, Birmingham and Solihull, Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire, Edinburgh Lothian and Borders, Cornwall and Devon, Central London, Lincolnshire and Rutland, Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth, and Norfolk.
In April 2008, providers will complete the rollout of the pathways service to customers in the remaining 16 Jobcentre Plus districts so that the service is available nationally to all new and repeat incapacity benefit customers. The final 16 districts are North and North East London, Cheshire and Warrington, West of England, Coventry and Warwickshire, North/East Yorkshire and The Humber, Brent Harrow and Hillingdon West London, Marches, Kent, Leicester/Northants, South and South East London, Cambridge and Suffolk, Gloucestershire Wiltshire & Swindon, Surrey and Sussex, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire.
Jobcentre Plus will continue to deliver the pathways service in the following 19 districts; Derbyshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway and Inverclyde, Highland Islands, Clyde Coast and Grampian, South Wales Valleys, Northumbria, South Tyne and Wear Valley, Essex, Dorset and Somerset, Lancashire, Cumbria, Glasgow, Tees Valley, South Yorkshire, Lanarkshire and East Dumbartonshire, Liverpool and Wirral, Greater Manchester Central, South West Wales, Greater Mersey, and Staffordshire.
More details about provider-led pathways will be available as we finalise our procurement plans over the next few weeks.
Pathways to Work support was first introduced in three Jobcentre Plus districts in October 2003.
It provides additional help to new and repeat incapacity benefits customers via five additional, mandatory monthly work-focused interviews in the first eight months of the incapacity benefits claim; and via the “Choices” programme of employment support and the new return to work credit. Customers who are expected to return to work within nine months of their claim and those who are exempt from the personal capability assessment because they are so severely disabled, are not required to take part in the five additional work-focused interviews. However, they may participate in any part of the pathways service at any time on a voluntary basis.
Using private and voluntary sector providers to deliver support for customers is not new, and this will build on existing work-focused support already delivered through engagement with providers.
As well as the national rollout of the Pathways to Work service, the Green Paper, A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work, sets out other welfare reforms that we are committed to delivering to help more people move into work and to end social exclusion. These include: introducing a new employment and support allowance (ESA) to replace incapacity benefits for new customers in 2008 and improving the gateway to the benefit; piloting employment advisers in GP surgeries to support GPs and primary care teams, revising the format of the medical certificate, and simplifying statutory sick pay; piloting the new Cities Strategy which will provide a leadership role for cities in tackling worklessness; increasing the frequency of work-focused interviews for lone parents claiming benefits; piloting a new premium for lone parents in exchange for undertaking serious steps towards work; requiring people aged 50-59 to take up the additional jobseeking support available through New Deal 25-plus; piloting face-to-face guidance sessions with people approaching 50 or over 50 to deliver tailored and relevant information on working, training and planning for retirement, and; introducing local housing allowance (currently being tested) and developing proposals for national rollout.
The 19 Jobcentre Plus-led pathways districts will continue to make a substantial contribution to the national rollout of the pathways service to all new and repeat incapacity benefit customers.