The response below is a collection of the frontline Jobcentre experiences of the CSAN network. Respondents include: Brushstrokes, the Cardinal Hume Centre, Caritas Care, Caritas Middlesbrough, Caritas Salford, Nugent Care, Marriage Care, the Passage, St Vincent Depaul (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and Our Lady of Gillingham Parish. CSAN welcomes this inquiry. We are pleased to be able to be able contribute and would be delighted to provide oral evidence to the Committee.
Support for vulnerable clients
- To allow charities and professionals to fully support vulnerable clients, there should be an intermediary line for advisors of charities to call on behalf of clients, similar to the one available for HMRC.
- More recognition is needed of the varying abilities of computer skills, literacy, comprehension and language skills of claimants.
- There should be more opportunity for face to face contact with Jobcentre advisors. This would help claimants navigate the complicated procedures, reduce the number of errors and delays and improve relationships between Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staff and claimants.
- The Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) decision to tailor services to permit people in supported accommodation services to be exempt from computerised systems and are able to continue to make telephone claims is welcome. It is important that this continues in the future and that any transition is managed carefully, with greater flexibility to recognise the difficulty these clients will have navigating and adjusting to any new system.
Greater digitalisation support
- Robust ‘assessment’ process should be in place to screen all clients who are not confident working in a digital environment.
- An action plan should be developed to address learning needs (digital and general literacy) with appropriate timeframes and sign-posting (ensuring capacity of service provider and appropriate level of support).
- An ‘interim’ plan should be agreed to ensure that vulnerable groups and/or people are not sanctioned or unfairly penalised for their lack of digitalisation awareness/skill.
Read the rest in CSAN response to future of Jobcentre plus Inquiry