Issue - meetings

DWP Service Delivery / Jobcentre Plus

Meeting: 09/01/2019 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 726)

DWP Service Delivery / Jobcentre Plus

To receive the presentation from the Jobcentre Plus and discuss with regard to the following topics as set out in the agreed work programme:

·         the benefits to the service users of relocating;

·         numbers accessing the service;

·         plans to provide a service to Burnham;

·         confirmation of ages being seen;

·         impact of Universal Credit.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced Mr Dave Cope, District Operations Manager for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Essex. 

 

Mr Cope proceeded to provide the Committee with a verbal update.  Information provided included:

·                    Universal Credit: Universal Credit (UC) full service was now being offered.  UC was replacing six previous benefits including Housing benefit, Working Tax Credit with one application process encompassing all.  The new system was applicable to new claims only with current claims following a migration process.  Automatic migration had been paused and as a result it may be that existing benefit holders would not be migrating over the UC this year.

Mr Cope outlined a number of exceptions to which UC would not apply and reported that since its initial going live in December 2018 120 people had been identified for UC.

·                    Maldon District: Mr Cope outlined the service provided to the Maldon District and explained that a sustainable solution to extend the service geographically across the District had not yet been identified.  A review of resourcing of the Maldon service was being undertaken and Mr Cope indicated that in his opinion more resources may be required.  It was noted that the aim was to give as many people in the Maldon District the easiest possible route to intervention.

·                    Online chat facility – The DWP would be developing an online chat facility, similar to those used by other large organisations, to assist and improve the service provided to customers.

 

Councillor I E Dobson joined the meeting during this item of business.

 

Councillor S J Savage declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item of business.

 

In response to a number of questions raised the following additional information was provided:

·                    Mr Cope explained how UC was integration of a government system and if a person was working their employer was legally required to report earnings to the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs) which would feed in the UC system. 

·                    In respect of Fraud the majority of this work was carried out by data matching.  The Director of Resources advised that the Council had to provide National Fraud Initiative data returns every December / January and the Government then sent a list of matches back which then had to be individually reviewed.

·                    Mr Cope referred to flexibility and how a number of changes had been made to working arrangements to move away from concentrating on those that can easily be helped to addressing those persons who have complex needs and UC provided the flexibility to do this.

·                    Members were informed that there were delays at the start of a claim process.  Payments for UC were made monthly to try and align it more to being in work than the traditional system.  The problem with this was that the first payment was not due for a month once a claim have been made, however there were advanced payment options and exceptions which could be applied.  Mr Cope referred to the support available to customers through the Citizen Advice Bureaus (CAB) and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 726