Declining Caseloads

I suppose one of the corollaries of the improvement in the jobs market and the record number of people in employment is the number of referrals from job centres has sharply fallen. What is the experience from other parts of the country. I work in outer London and we have seen massive reductions in our caseloads - while it is great to see so many customers in work - the low number of new referrals must surely be causing contract managers to review headcount. Anyone facing this situation ? This, of course, is a different scenario to the one the sector faced when the Work Programme was launched as the economy at that time was still contracting and headline unemployment was rising. As we move towards a general election and the (remote) possibility of a new government replacing the WP creating uncertainty are other providers downsizing yet ?

As far as JSA referrals is concerned, you are right - yesterday's labour market statistics show both falling JSA new claims and record JSA off-flow rates before 9/12 months. This translates into further falls in JSA referrals.

The rise in youth unemployment is in ILO (survey) unemployment and not in JSA claims.

What is likely to affect referrals in the ESA new claims and the two ex-IB groups (which should have finished referrals by now) is Maximus taking over from Atos at doing Work Capability Assessments from 1 March. They've got to get through the backlog of assessments.

So I'd expect ESA referrals to rise.

At the same time the improvement in the economy should help with job outcomes and sustainment, so a caseload shift into in-work support may be necessary.

I'd expect providers to try and manage staffing so that they have (just) enough staff to manage expected caseloads.

Have you taken into account the 500,000+ Sanctions?

If sanctioned people sign off for long enough they don't flow through to Work Programme. If they come back too quickly, the sanction reapplies...

So, off-flow is off-flow for whatever reason, and means they don't reach 9/12 months claim length.

Social policy is one of those things that "It's a bit more complicated than that" so pressures re-emerge somewhere else - emigration, crime, etc etc. Though not many signs yet.