Experiencing Jobcentre Plus Pathfinders : overview of early evaluation evidence

Jobcentre Plus is a key part of the Government's strategy for welfare reform. It brings together the services of the Employment Service and parts of the Benefits Agency to provide a single point of delivery for jobs, benefits advice and support for people of working age. In the process, it aims to provide a work focus to the benefit system for everyone using the service. The first 56 Jobcentre Plus Pathfinder offices, established in October 2001, built upon the ONE service, which from June 1999 had piloted the integration of benefit claiming and work placement/job seeking for all claimants in 12 areas of Britain. A programme of evaluation accompanied the launch of the Jobcentre Plus Pathfinders. This work was designed to provide an early assessment of the Pathfinders, to identify good practice and inform the continuous improvement and future roll out of the service. This overview report has two principal aims. First, it brings together and reports the key findings of qualitative and quantitative evaluations of Jobcentre Plus services at Pathfinder sites that were carried out from October 2001 to May 2002. This was a period during which the implementation of Jobcentre Plus was obstructed by industrial action, a factor that needs to be taken into account when assessing early performance. The findings of this research are then related to comparable research on ONE. Second, it charts the changes made in the provision of Jobcentre Plus since its inception and identifies how Jobcentre Plus has progressed from the ONE service from which it developed.