Headlines: June 30th, 1999

The first four ‘ONE’ one stop job and benefit shops have been launched. The one stop shop was originally known as the Single Work-Focused Gateway. ONE brings together staff from Employment Service, the Benefits Agency and local councils. They provide a streamlined job seeking and benefits service. Every case will be dealt with by a single adviser. Traditionally those who loose their job have to visit three or four places.

The change in approach to the unemployed is more than organisational streamlining. It is designed to end the dependency trap so many people fall into by focusing attention on the way back to work. To achieve this it will be necessary to shift the culture from: ‘what money can we pay your’ to ‘ how can we help you to become independent’.

Further pilots are planned for the autumn. Four call centres are due to open and they will pioneer the use of new technology to replace the personal call. Employment Service Direct, a jobseekers hotline, has been in operation since January this year and the experience gained in providing this service will feed into the pilot call centres.

In addition there will be a further four pilot ONE shops and organisations in the private and voluntary sectors will be invited to bid for contracts to operate them.