DWP job centres to aid career progression – response

Responding to the DWP secretary’s speech on Thursday 9 May 2019 about the future of work, Young Women’s Trust’s Communications and Campaigns Director Joe Levenson said:

“Hundreds of thousands of young women are stuck on low pay and lacking opportunities to achieve their potential. We therefore welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement today that job centres will focus on career progression. There is also an urgent need to improve the service job centres provide for young women seeking work.

“Young Women’s Trust research shows that job centres are currently failing young women. Many say they are not given the help they need to find work, are not treated with respect and are sanctioned unfairly. One young woman told us that she was sanctioned for going into labour with her baby!

“Job seekers should be given personalised and flexible support that takes account of any vulnerabilities. We need less focus on sanctions and more emphasis on support finding work.”

Notes to editor 

  • Young Women’s Trust is a charity supporting women aged 18 to 30 on low or no pay. The charity provides direct services to help young women into work and runs campaigns.
  • Young Women’s Trust and 4in10 recently published a joint report on job centres, Working Well, which includes the results of longitudinal surveys of 700 young job centre users over 3 years, carried out by Populus Data Solutions for Young Women’s Trust. The report shows that:
    • just over half (56%) have reported feeling they were treated with respect by job centre staff, while 3 in 20 described their treatment as “unfair”; and
    • young women have consistently ranked their experiences as humiliating (52%), stressful (56%) and stated that they feel ashamed to go to the job centre (53%).
  • The report recommends that

Work coaches should…

  • Conduct regular reviews of vulnerability markers to record young people’s situation and make sure the support given is reflective of young people’s circumstances. [1]
  • Develop a holistic understanding of job-seekers’ situations and aspirations. Support should be appropriate and personalised accordingly.
  • Provide private and non-judgmental spaces to facilitate disclosure of vulnerability.

Youth Obligation Managers should…

  • Increase the efficacy of referral process between Jobcentre Plus and partner organisations.
  • Monitor the numbers and outcomes of those referred through the Youth Obligation.
  • Ensure information is shared widely with internal staff and external service providers about the Youth Obligation policy and its aims. 

Jobcentre Plus services should…

  • Measure Work Coaches’ success using longer term outcome indicators such as improved employment and education outcomes, or reduction of housing and homelessness costs, rather than target numbers in jobs.
  • Provide fair support and motivation for job-seekers across all boroughs. Jobcentre Plus needs to develop further guidance for Work Coaches to standardise the initial assessment process and strike the right balance between coaching and conditionality. There needs to be a review the automation of markers, such as failure to attend interview, when claimants make reasonable efforts to contact Jobcentre Plus.
  • Develop an initial assessment self-referral tool for welfare claimants to disclose disadvantage, circumstances or markers that might affect their benefit claims and support. This should be routinely reviewed on a six-monthly basis.

Government should…

  • As a matter of urgency, pause the roll out of Universal Credit until a fully functional system is in place. Continuous updates and changes to a flawed system have caused confusion for claimants and service providers alike. Young people need comprehensive benefit support to provide them with the same benefit entitlements as those over age 25.
  • Develop automatic rollover to Universal Credit once a final system is in place. By taking responsibility for the system it is using, the DWP can save staff time, cost and claimant confusion by automatically rolling over benefits into Universal Credit, rather than relying on the claimant to provide relevant documentation in the initial stages.
  • Ensure Department for Work and Pensions communicate closely with local councils and commissioners to ensure that clients in boroughs under the same Jobcentre Plus jurisdiction have access to similar services. Jobcentre Plus needs to develop unrestricted, standardised service provisions for basic services such as CV development and interview training across boroughs.


  • Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee should conduct a full review the Youth Obligation policy and its effectiveness.

[1] According to DWP LMS Marker and Hotspot Guide [pdf] “not all stages of conditionality are used in all locations even though they are displayed”. This indicates different approaches to conditionality and mandation in boroughs. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/401360/response/972836/attach/12/8.LMS%20Marker%20and%20Hotspot%20Guide.pdf