Headlines: September 20th, 1999

The announcement of the successful bidders to run four pilot one stop
benefit and employment shops marks a significant step in the move to
dismantle public sector boundary fences. Deloitte Consulting Ltd are to be
offered two contracts and offers for the other two go to The Reed/Shaw
Trust (comprising ReedW2W Ltd, the Shaw Trust, Nat West Bank plc and SEMA
Group Ltd); and to North Cheshire Action for Employment Ltd. The four
pilots will be test beds to develop innovative ideas for bringing together
the functions of the Benefits Agency, Employment Service and local
authorities and for providing a seamless service to the unemployed person.

Four pilot one stop shops led by the Benefits Agency were launched in June
and they are pioneering integrated working. Four call centres offering a
one stop shop service by telephone are due to start in November. The launch
of the four private/voluntary sector pilots, at a date yet to be announced, will provide a different service model that can be used for comparison.

The intense interest on how the pilots perform will be focused firstly on
the effect of competition between the models to see whether cultural change
is speeded up. The other focus of interest will be how the
private/voluntary sectors perform as a channel for delivering a public
service. Plans for the development of e-commerce envisage the delivery of
services through a wide variety of channels including banks, accountants,
post offices and supermarkets.