The claim made by The Times that plans have been approved for inviting private companies to run the benefits system have been strongly denied. Private companies have, however, been invited to tender for four Single Gateway pilot projects due to take place in November 1999.
The first four Single Work- Focused Gateway projects will be launched in June as test beds to find out how best the Employment Service, Benefits Agency, local authorities and voluntary bodies can come together to provide a one stop shop benefits service. All new claimants will have access to a personal adviser to guide them through their options. Modern technology will be used – including call-centres – to make the process as quick and efficient as possible.
A further four pilot projects will be launched in November and invitations to tender have gone to private companies and voluntary bodies. The aim is to seek innovative solutions to develop the concept of the benefits one stop shop.