Easing the stress of unemployment and helping people back to work is the aim of the Single Gateway to Work which integrates all elements of the benefit system. The gateway consists of a one stop shop and a personal adviser. This gateway approach is being piloted before a national roll out as in other initiatives such as New Deal for young people and education and health action zones. Four pilots will be launched in June and a further eight in November.
One stop shops dismantle traditional boundaries by bringing together government departments, council departments and the private and voluntary sectors. One Stop Shop working has shown that in less than one hour an unemployed person, through a personal advisor, can make claims for all relevant benefits, receive advice about such things as training and childcare and be guided on the way back to work.
The Leeds City Centre One Stop Shop receives 290,000 visits each year. An exit poll at the Shop showed that 85% of people thought the service ‘excellent’. It is uncertain how much reliance can be placed on this result, because only some 10% of visitors returned their forms. By October the City Centre Shop will be supplemented by 25 community based One Stop Services which will allow the service to be tailored more closely to the local area and reduce the need to travel. It is also planned to introduce a One Stop Telephone Centre. Leeds is one of the areas selected to pilot the Single Gateway.