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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Background

The measure will support plans to introduce a single gateway into the benefit system for people of working age who are not in full-time employment. It is intended to bring together the Employment Service, the Benefits Agency and local authorities to provide a more streamlined service, giving claimants one point of contact for all of their benefit requirements. This is why the name for this initiative is the “ONE service”.

These proposals were put forward in A new contract for welfare: THE GATEWAY TO WORK (Cm 4102), published in October 1998.

  • After claimants make initial contact to supply basic information, such as the benefits to be claimed and other details relevant to the claim, they will be given a personal adviser. The adviser will carry out work-focused interviews with each individual: discussing job potential, and providing access to a range of help and information on work, benefits and services such as childcare. The ONE service will be piloted in twelve areas, starting in June 1999. Before the powers in this section come into force, taking part in interviews will be voluntary for claimants of benefits other than Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

Most of the arrangements for operating the ONE service will be introduced using existing powers. There are already comprehensive powers to require those claiming JSA (who will make up the majority of claimants entering the service) to attend work-related interviews. However there are no general provisions to require people claiming any other benefit to have an interview about work. The powers in this section will require individuals claiming certain other benefits to take part in work-focused interviews with a personal adviser as a condition of entitlement. ONE is intended to encourage claimants to take further steps towards labour market participation, but any action they take beyond taking part in interviews will be entirely voluntary. For example, they will not be required to attend training courses or seek work.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.

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