Headlines: November 22nd, 2004

The New Deal programme for helping the unemployed into work has been revamped and the highly structured route to employment replaced with a ‘pick and mix’ approach to suit the needs of individual jobseekers. The new approach will reduce complexity and give more flexibility to customers and staff.The New Deal was launched in 1998 for those aged 18-24 who had been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for at least 6 months. Eligibility has been extended over the years to effectively remove the age limit. In addition particular groups of people such as ex offenders, refugees, homeless people and people with addiction problems can join on a voluntary basis.

The structured route to employment currently in force requires those joining New Deal to enter a four month ‘gateway’ where they receive help tailored to their needs. This is followed by a mandatory intensive activity period lasting up to six months. During this time they receive packages of support which include work experience, work placements with employers, occupational training, help with motivation and soft skills. All packages are underpinned by intensive jobsearch to help people move on.

The re-vamped version, which will be piloted in 11 areas in 2005, will provide for individuals to discuss their needs with a personal adviser in Jobcentre Plus. Elements from across the New Deal menu will then be put together to make a programme of support that is unique to the individual jobseeker. If then ‘tailor made’ approach proves successful it will be extended across the country.