Controversial move will see many more DWP advisers in community settings
So called job coaches from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are to be placed in schools, social care settings, libraries, and housing schemes, a UK government minister has said.
Employment minister Priti Patel told MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee that work coaches would be rolled out nationally targeting areas of the country with high unemployment.
Last year a similar move caused uproar when it was revealed job advisers were being placed in charity-operated foodbanks – with plans to deploy them across the country.
Patel told the committee: “One of the biggest areas of reform for us is this whole co-location of services.
“The role of work coaches, these are great individuals doing great work with people and helping to transform lives and get better outcomes for them.
“The way in which we can do that is by rather than signposting people and referring them and booking new appointments for them – actually integrating the service.
“There is a lot more coming and a very clear work programme as well, associated with co-location of public services around the country and looking at the demand locally where there are still significant challenges with people that are unemployed.”
These are great individuals doing great work with people and helping to transform lives and get better outcomes for them
Placing advisers linked to the DWP in community settings is a controversial move.
Last year a foodbank in Manchester ran a trial which saw a jobcentre adviser place on its premises – a move that was criticised because Jobcentres are responsible for sanctioning claimants which in turn force many to seek emergency food.
And earlier this year it was announced a pilot scheme in London would see patients at GP surgeries matched with job coaches to encourage them into work.
The move is seen as an integral part of the government’s introduction of Universal Credit, the new system that integrates all benefits into a single payment.
A spokesperson for the DWP said “Universal Credit work coaches are trained to provide tailored support specific to a person’s individual needs.”
Campaigners have however accused the DWP of giving jobcentre advisers targets and incentives to sanction claimants – leading to unfair sanctions with a high rate of successful appeal.