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House of Commons Hansard
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11 November 2009
Volume 499
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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking to ensure the local relevance of help and advice given to jobseekers under the Flexible New Deal programme; and if she will make a statement. [298189]

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The key aim of Flexible New Deal is to help long-term unemployed people prepare for, find and remain in work. Flexible New Deal providers have been given the flexibility to deliver a range of support based on the needs of individuals who are referred to them.

DWP has an ongoing programme of performance monitoring and improvement activity and in addition, the quality of services will be monitored through external inspection of the Flexible New Deal supplier (Ofsted in England, Estyn in Wales and HMIe in Scotland). Results will be published and will inform the performance rating of the supplier, taking into account the quality of service as well as performance in terms of job outcomes and sustained job outcomes.

In 10 of the 14 Flexible New Deal areas, two suppliers are contracted to deliver Flexible New Deal services to customers. From October 2010 customers will have the right to choose the supplier offering the service best suited to their needs, using information about the support available and performance ratings of the Flexible New Deal suppliers. From April 2011, better performing providers in customer choice areas could gain market share.

The funding system is performance based, with the majority of the contract value allocated for outcome payments to the supplier when a jobseeker enters work that lasts 13 weeks and then again at 26 weeks. DWP believes that this range of measures provides the correct balance to ensure relevant and effective services are delivered to Flexible New Deal customers.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken under the Flexible New Deal programme to get people into work lasting 12 months or more; and if she will make a statement. [298190]

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The key aim of Flexible New Deal is to help long-term unemployed people prepare for, find and remain in work. Flexible New Deal suppliers will work with each customer to decide the best way to help them into sustained employment, and will offer support tailored to the needs of the individual.

The funding system is performance based, with the majority of the contract value allocated for outcome payments to the provider when a jobseeker enters work that lasts 13 weeks and then again at 26 weeks. DWP believes that this provides the correct balance between supplier incentives and value for money. After a person has been employed for 26 out of the previous 30 weeks they are more likely to remain in a job in the longer term.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and who have not been referred to the flexible New Deal scheme. [299017]

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[holding answer 10 November 2009]: The Flexible New Deal service started in Phase One areas in October. To bridge the gap for existing jobseeker’s allowance customers at April 2009, and take account of the former New Deal 25 Plus customers in these areas being referred to Flexible New Deal providers earlier, revised contractual arrangements were agreed with existing New Deal (including Private Sector-led) and Employment Zone providers.

Due to these changes some of the former New Deal 25 Plus customers in these areas who did not start with the New Deal provider will have been unemployed for more than 12 months by the time they are referred to the provider under the Flexible New Deal. However they will have also received more intensive support from Jobcentre Plus personal advisers for a period of six months.

All new jobseeker’s allowance customers will be referred to the Flexible New Deal providers on reaching 12 months unemployment, or earlier in certain circumstances.

For customers in Flexible New Deal Phase Two areas, existing New Deal and Employment Zone contracts will continue. They will have access to the additional support for jobseekers at six months. Some customers may also be able to access additional support under the Young Persons Guarantee provision. Customers over age 25 will receive support from Jobcentre Plus until they become eligible for the existing New Deal 25 Plus when they have been receiving jobseeker’s allowance for 18 months.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have been referred to the flexible New Deal scheme since 6 October 2009. [299018]

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[holding answer 10 November 2009]: The Flexible New Deal started on 5 October 2009 and data are only starting to feed through. The Department is working to guidelines set by the UK Statistics Authority to ensure we are able to publish statistics that meet high quality standards at the earliest opportunity. We intend to publish headline Official Statistics from early 2010.