Agenda item

Universal Credit

Verbal update.


The Panel received a presentation on Universal Credit, which was tabled at the meeting, and introduced by Phylis Fealy, Haringey Employment and Partnership Manager at the Department for Work and Pensions and Ian Smith (DWP). Andy Briggs, AD for Corporate and Customer Services and Jim Brady, Service Manager for Customer Services were also present for this agenda item. The following arose in discussion of the presentation:

  1. The Committee sought assurances around the number of job vacancies that were available to deaf and the disabled claimants. In response, the DWP acknowledged that supporting access to the job market for disabled residents was something that was part of the work undertaken by Job Centres, including the provision of disability advisors. The DWP agreed to come back to the Committee with the numbers of disabled people that were being supported into work and information on which areas they were getting jobs in. (Action: Phylis Fealy).
  2. The Committee queried whether any information was collected on the type of industries people ended up getting jobs in and their ability to focus on a particular area of employment. The example of graduates being able to access jobs in creative industries was given. In response, the DWP advised that they would support people to get into specific areas of employment, particularly during their initial interactions with the Job Centre. However, in order to maintain eligibility for Universal Credit, service users would have to give consideration to other areas of employment as time progressed. The DWP assured the Committee that they did not seek to put people in just any job as it was important to get them into sustainable employment and to get them off Universal Credit all together. The DWP also advised that they used in-work benefit calculators to assess individual claimant’s circumstances. The Committee was advised that it was difficult to produce hard data showing the ability of claimants to focus on particular areas of employment.
  3. The Committee raised the example of some of the projects undertaken in Islington to support people into employment once they had come out of prison and the difficulties experienced by these people in transitioning into the workplace. Previously, Islington had offered training, housing and financial support for 12 months as part of a holistic package of support measures and the Committee questioned whether this was something that had been considered in Haringey. In response, the DWP advised that they were not aware of anything like this in Haringey but that work coaches did go into prisons and work with offenders. The DWP agreed to come back to the Committee with a written response to this question. (Action: Ian Smith).
  4. In response to a question around the extent to which the DWP were involved in SEND programmes in the borough, the DWP advised that one area of their community role was around supporting schools through their school employment advisors. It was noted that the DWP went into schools and raised awareness of apprenticeship schemes and other employment opportunities. It was noted that the schools advisor had been closely involved in SEND discussions in the borough and that this was something that the DWP were definitely involved with.
  5. The Committee enquired whether the employment support schemes mentioned, such as supporting graduates were orientated to benefit claimants, or whether they were open to all. In response, the DWP advised that these were mostly limited to benefit claimants, and these were the customers in the Job Centres and that the DWP needed to prioritise them. It was acknowledged that similar programmes had been in place in the past.
  6. The Chair requested further details, and the data behind the information given in the last three slides of the presentation. In particular the Chair was keen to understand how many people had been helped through the co-funding and commissioning work. In response, the DWP advised that the figures varied depending on the programme and also according to the need and the staffing resources that were available to put toward the programme. The Chair clarified that this programme was co-funded by the Council and that in future she would like to see more information on some of the numbers involved in these schemes.
  7. The Committee noted the project in place for supporting the Somali population and questioned whether there were any specific projects aimed at Ukrainian refugees. In response, the DWP advised that there was nothing specific in place at present, but that this would likely come forward as the events unfolded. It was not anticipated that there would be any delays in rolling out a targeted programme such as this, given past roll out of similar projects.
  8. The Chair requested further information around the Domestic Violence initiative as well as the Chad Gordon campus initiative supporting people into the autism hub. (Action: Phylis Fealy).


Supporting documents: