New deal for disabled people national extension: findings from the first wave of qualitative research with clients, job brokers and jobcentre plus staff

The New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) was introduced in 1998 and 1999 as a series of pilots designed to evaluate services based on the use of personal advisers to help disabled people move into or stay in paid employment. The pilots were wound up in 2001 and superseded by what is known as the ‘national extension’ of NDDP, the aim of which is to ‘support and test innovative ways of helping people on Incapacity Benefits move from economic inactivity into sustained employment’ (DSS, ES, DfEE research specification, April, 2001). Services under the national extension are provided by a network of around 60 ‘Job Broker’ organisations including voluntary and other not-for-profit bodies, commercial companies, government agencies and other public sector organisations. This report presents findings from a first wave of qualitative research carried out in 2002 which forms part of a larger programme of work aimed at providing the Department for Work and Pensions with a comprehensive evaluation of the NDDP extension. The overall aim of the qualitative research is to explore the organisation, operation and impacts of the Job Broker service from the perspective of all key stakeholders, including users and providers of Job Broker services, and staff of Jobcentre Plus offices. Specifically, the research was designed to produce data on the following: • factors affecting participation in the Job Broker programme • clients’ understanding and experiences of NDDP • the role and operation of Job Brokers • the role and operation of the Jobcentre Plus staff who can provide people with information about Job Broker services. A research design was adopted that aimed to gather data using a range of qualitative research techniques from key actors associated with 18 Job Broker services operating in 15 specific geographical areas. The first wave of data collection was carried out in the Summer/Autumn of 2002; a second wave is planned for 2003. The report is organised into three main parts. Part I (Chapters 2 to 5) presents findings from the Job Broker and Jobcentre Plus staff research. In Part II (Chapters 6 to 9), the client perspective is presented. Part III (Chapter 10) provides an overall summary of the emerging issues.