Flexible Support Fund Overview

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1 Flexible Support Fund Overview Overview 1. The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) forms part of the overall Jobcentre Plus (JCP) Pre-work programme offer, replacing a range of previous support which helped claimants enter and remain in work. 2. JCP claimants are eligible for support from the fund provided they are not in the Work Programme or Work Choice. Advisers must also ensure that all other avenues of financial support have been fully explored and it is confirmed that alternatives are not available before committing expenditure. 3. The fund is a key enabler to meet individual needs in order to maximise offflow into work in line with existing policy guidelines. Awards must be appropriate, good value for tax payers money and ensure a claimant can move into work sooner than would otherwise be possible. Payments from the FSF may also be considered to enable claimants to address a skills need which will help their immediate prospects of moving into work. This includes supporting those not required to be available for work, or move into employment, for example those claiming IS/ESA/IB. 4. District Managers are responsible for managing expenditure within their budget and in this context determining how the FSF is spent locally. District Managers may set local priorities and local guidelines/restrictions on limits for certain types of payments and the amount advisers can award. 5. The decision to award a payment from the FSF is the responsibility of the adviser, taking into account any local priorities, guidelines or restrictions. Advisers must ensure they target the fund appropriately, using it for those claimants who would not be able to move closer to or into work without such assistance. Advisers should refer to and keep up to date with local guidelines. 6. The fund can be used to cover expenses associated with taking up work or training in line with existing policy guidelines. It can be used to fill gaps and add support where DWP provision, non-contracted partner provision or adviser interventions are not sufficient or appropriate to meet local claimant needs. 7. Payments from the FSF must not be seen as a reward or bonus for moving into work. Advisers should familiarise themselves with this guide, which explains when FSF can and cannot be used, as well as the other chapters contained within the FSF Guidance. A table of links to these chapters has been included at the end of this guidance. Eligibility 8. Support from the fund is available from day one of a new claim for all Jobcentre Plus claimants who are not participating in the Work Programme or Work Choice. Note: Some payments made from the FSF retain specific eligibility, for example In Work Emergency Payments for Lone Parents and CRB/PVG checks. Always check relevant guidance to ensure eligibility is met before making an award or payment.

2 9. Partners of claimants receiving benefit (potential second earners) are eligible if they are over 16 and their partner is receiving a qualifying benefit. The qualifying benefits are: Jobseeker s Allowance (JSA) Income Support (IS) Incapacity Benefit (IB) Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Carers Allowance (CA) Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) Working Tax Credit (WTC) Pension Credit (PC) 10. People not claiming benefit are eligible in the following circumstances: Carers in receipt of Carer s Allowance only, or not in receipt of any benefit, are eligible if they are: aged 16 years or older and not working or working less than 16 hours per week Lone Parents not claiming benefit are eligible if they are responsible for and a member of the same household, as a child or young person and they: are aged over 16 have a dependant child aged under 16 are not working, or are working less than 16 hours a week, and are not an asylum seeker (unless they have exceptional leave to stay) are not required to participate in any mandatory programme/activity. People aged under 18, i.e. age 16/17 years, may receive assistance from the fund to access support such as confidence building or CV writing to help them move into education, training or work with training. Other people not claiming benefit who may receive support are: people supported under Partnership Arrangements people supported under Rapid Response funding Non eligibility 11. If the adviser decides that a FSF award is not appropriate a verbal explanation must be given to the claimant. 12. The decision must be fully documented on the appropriate application form and a note made in LMS Conversations. This will create an audit trail so that the information is available in the event of: a complaint being made a request for reconsideration the same claim being re-submitted in the future.

3 Appeals 13. FSF awards are discretionary and the claimant has no right of appeal. If a claimant is not satisfied with the outcome they can ask for one review or reconsideration of an award. 14. They must request this within one calendar month of the day after the decision was made. The case should be examined by another appropriate adviser or Advisory Team Manager to determine whether the award is now appropriate to the situation. 15. If the award is still not appropriate, a verbal explanation must be given to the claimant. Record the decision on form ES589 and, if possible, ask the claimant to sign it. Fasten the ES589 securely to the original application form to maintain an audit trail and make a note of the action you have taken in LMS Conversations. What the Flexible Support fund can be used for 16. The FSF is designed to: help claimants move off benefits and into employment earlier than they would have done without its help provide a wide range of support to help eligible claimants, not required to be available for work, to move off benefit and into work or improve their skills and immediate prospects of work help certain people not claiming benefits to either move into employment or remain close to the labour market by improving skills. 17. The fund can be used to: overcome barriers to claimants obtaining or moving closer to work - for example assistance with childcare expenses, travel costs, clothing, tools etc. pay for training or certification not available through contracted or partner provision. improve job search, job application and interview techniques and travel to interview costs. buy additional capacity or content from existing JCP Support Contract providers. provide support costs (travel, childcare, allowances) for those on training courses or other provision including replacement care costs for Carers. meet the cost of medical evidence to support a job goal for a disabled person. meet the cost of enhanced Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) and Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks in regulated sectors or jobs only, where the adviser is satisfied that all the eligibility criteria in the framework principles have been met. This list is not exhaustive and you may have local District Manager guidance for other eligible spend. 18. Where a claimant with a health condition would benefit from specialist Health Related Support. HRS through Jobcentre Plus does not offer or replace medical treatment. As such, it is not appropriate to use the FSF to purchase treatment,

4 such as physiotherapy, for an individual. FSF can be used to pay for medical evidence from a GP or consultant to verify/ support a person s health condition. It could also be used to procure group or one to one sessions on aspects of wellbeing and lifestyle (and any associated travel and childcare costs). For example: healthy eating healthy lifestyle confidence relaxation stopping smoking reducing alcohol intake etc buying external disability-related/health support from the voluntary sector or Primary Care Trust/Health Board/Local Health Board. The CMP Lessons Learned document is useful background reading if this is being considered This could involve the type of service that could support a claimant in managing his/her health condition, or more specialist support, e.g. from an autism charity. However, it should not duplicate the services provided for those with the most complex disabilities through Work Choice, Residential Training Colleges or Access to Work. 19. Alternatively, the fund could be used to purchase additional in work support for customers with fluctuating conditions to enable them to remain in work. 20. The risk with any health intervention is that it may do harm to the individual. It is therefore critical that HRS providers have the necessary accreditation to deliver the intervention e.g. the necessary qualifications to conduct Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions. 21. As before, Districts will still use the following mechanisms to obtain the products or services they wish to purchase using FSF: Resource Management Retail Trade Framework Low value and ad-hoc procurement via DWP Commercial Directorate Grant funding - in support of partnership working as set out in Using the FSF to support local Partnership Working. JCP Support Contract 22. Advisers should note that until new forms have been designed to reflect the FSF, existing forms and functionality will be utilised to make payments. See the appropriate guidance for details. What the Fund cannot be used for 23. Other than for Lone Parent exceptions (see Lone Parents With in Work Emergencies) the FSF cannot be used: to support activity which conflicts with DWP policy objectives to duplicate any provision which would normally be funded by Government or Partners (including local government or voluntary sector) or commercial providers

5 for those claimants participating in the Community Action Programme (CAP) as the provider is paid for delivering sustainable outcomes if the claimant has capital available to them that could be used to fund the need to replace income or benefit for claimants to directly replace any benefit lost as part of the normal operation of the benefit system or to top up wages once in work or to provide income to cover short term expenses in the period up to first payment of wages (Crisis Loans should still be used in these circumstances). However, paying for goods or services which would ease the immediate transition to work is permitted where these are necessary to pay fines or similar penalties to pay wage subsidies or in work credits directly to the claimant, however, paying for goods or services which would ease the immediate transition to work is permitted to pay wages or recruitment subsidies to provide an incentive to employers to cover the cost of living such as paying bills, household costs or buying food ( but see Lone Parents With in Work Emergencies for exceptions for LPs) to help claimants who have a job / employment contract but are returning to work after a career break / maternity leave. 24. In Work Credit and Return to Work Credit whilst not part of FSF, remain available to help claimants in these situations. Training Support Costs 25. Advisers have the flexibility to refer claimants to training from day one of their new claim on a full or part time basis. Advisers have discretion over the timing and nature of training referrals, but they must to be convinced of the benefits of placing claimants on full-time training (see here for definition of full/part time training) particularly in the early stages of a claim. 26. Advisers also need to take account of any local guidelines set by the District Manager regarding use of the Fund for training. 27. The fund can be used to fund training not already provided by the Skills Funding Agency or Devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales including: Pre-Employment Training Basic Skills Training Support contract Provision Low Value Provision Non-Contracted Provision. Training Allowances 28. Advisers have the flexibility to consider referrals to full time training (basic skills and non basic skills) from the outset of a claim and for any period, provided

6 that it is affordable and justified as part of the claimant s diagnostic interview. Training allowances to support this can be funded from the FSF as appropriate. 29. From 4 th April, 2011: claimants undertaking up to 2 weeks full time training in a rolling 52 week period retain their benefit. Continued or further training in addition to this must be on a part time basis less than 16 hours unless the claimant transfers to an allowance payment. claimants undertaking more than 2 weeks full time training in a 52 week period transfer to a training allowance. claimants undertaking part time training (up to 16 hours) retain their benefit. England only 30. Claimants referred in England to any full time training provision have their Training Allowance funded from the FSF. 31. See the Allowance Payments Guide, Setting up the Allowance Payment record on JSAPS. For these awards, you must use the following indicators: Scheme Indicator WBLA TEC/LEC indicator 008. Note: This will default to North Derbyshire; this is not an error and is applicable to all of England. For clerical cases, the payment code will be: 750 (Basic rate derived from JSA(C)) or 916 (Basic rate derived from JSA(IB), plus an element of JSA(IB) in payment) Scotland and Wales 32. This does not apply to Training Allowances in Scotland and Wales where existing arrangements must be used. Training Premium 33. The Training Premium was removed from 4 th April, 2011 in England for Skills Funding Agency funded training. However, claimants already in receipt of a training premium will continue to receive it, if their course finishes after that date. 34. Training premiums linked to transitional provision e.g. New Deal, remain. 35. This does not apply to Training Premium to support attendance on provision in Scotland and Wales delivered via Training for Work and Skill Build respectively existing arrangements apply for these programmes. Travel, Childcare and Replacement Care Costs 36. Where a Jobseeker direction is used to encourage a claimant s attendance at a Provider initial interview or Next Step/Careers Advice interview, travel and childcare costs must be met. Claimants cannot be mandated if they are to be left financially disadvantaged as a consequence of a JCP referral. 37. Advisers have discretion to pay travel, childcare and replacement care costs for claimants who take up training on a voluntary basis.

7 38. Advisers also have discretion in line with local priorities, to pay expenses for travel to job interviews and travel in the first weeks of employment. 39. Travel costs will continue to be paid to eligible claimants volunteering for training and other work related activities including work trials. 40. Childcare or replacement care costs may be paid to eligible claimants with caring responsibilities, whether parents, partners or carers, when attending an employer, provider or adviser interview, or when undertaking a Jobcentre Plus approved activity 41. The fund can also be used to support disabled claimants with assistance to attend interviews (formerly fares to interview). 42. Advisers must ensure that all other avenues of financial support have been fully explored, for example The Skills Funding Agency Providers Learner Support fund in England and it is confirmed that none is available before committing any expenditure to support attendance on provision. Support for people aged under People aged under 18, i.e. age 16/17 years, may receive assistance from the fund to access support such as confidence building or CV writing to help them move into education, training or work with training. 44. They may also receive support from the fund to help remove barriers such as travel costs to enable them to access the support offered through Jobcentre Plus. 45. The rationale should be that there is a potential saving from the young person not making a claim to benefit, or that if the young person does make a claim to benefit, then it is for a shorter period. Using the FSF to support local Partnership Working 46. The over-riding purpose of the FSF is to support DWP s objectives to help maximise off-flow into employment and reduce economic inactivity and child poverty. District managers will be responsible for identifying and prioritising local needs with partners and can use FSF to contribute to effective local solutions for tackling these issues or wider issues where objectives are shared with DWP. 47. Separate guidance on partnership working is provided for District Managers. Support Contract 48. The primary consideration for all advisers is to select the most suitable provision, based on the claimant s need. DMs should maximise the use of the Support Contract by ensuring that existing provision is fully utilised. Where additional capacity, or alternative content is needed, the DM and/or District Employer and Partnership Teams should explore with the Provider for it to be included drawing on their FSF and should consult the contract manager. 49. The adviser should decide on the most appropriate route way for each claimant as part of the action planning process, that is, after discussion with the claimant about their job goals, the skills and/or qualifications required to reach their job goal, the local labour market and their individual circumstances. 50. Link to Jobcentre Plus Support Contract Adviser Guidance.

8 Rapid Response Service 51. See RRS guidance. Lone Parents With in Work Emergencies 52. Subject to the Lone Parent satisfying certain eligibility criteria, the FSF can be used to support Lone Parents who experience a financial emergency within the first 26 weeks of employment. This help was previously available under the In Work Emergency Discretionary Fund. 53. Advisers can use discretion to make payments where they consider that a payment from the FSF will resolve a financial emergency and keep the Lone Parent in work rather than returning to benefits. Advisers will also need to consider local budgetary guidelines. Examples of the types of emergencies where discretion may be applied in making an emergency payment are: car repairs can be considered if car breaks down and no suitable alternative transport is available claimant loses travel pass and a replacement has to be paid for; childcare arrangements break down and the lone parent has to arrange and pay for alternative, additional childcare domestic emergency this could cover any number of scenarios and Advisers need to consider whether such an emergency is likely to prevent the lone parent from remaining in work replacement or repair of broken works tools or equipment that the claimant was required to provide themselves accidental damage to work clothes where the employer does not provide replacements payment of specific bills where there is hardship caused by delays or processing problems with Working Tax Credit (WTC) and non-payment of the bill may result in the lone parent leaving work contributing towards living expenses such as food and housing costs where lone parents are unable to support themselves until WTC is in payment and the WTC has been delayed payment of arrears of utility bills accrued before starting work, where the need to pay these from initial income may force the lone parent back onto benefits. This only applies to claimants whose payment of WTC has been delayed and whilst in receipt of Income Support (IS) or Jobseekers allowance (JSA) had an agreement with Jobcentre Plus to pay an amount out of their weekly benefit to the provider to clear these arrears. 54. Further information and good practice can be found in the In Work Emergency Payments for Lone Parents. Account Codes 55. To ensure that expenditure from the FSF is correctly accounted for, specific account codes have been introduced for each type of spend. 56. An account code tool (ACME Account Codes Made Easy) has been created for advisers to use to determine the correct account code. This ensures that

9 Jobcentre Plus correctly accounts for payments to customers, providers and partners. ACME Guidance can be found here. 57. It is important the correct account code is used. When using ACME, you must consider the claimant group. For example, a lone parent claiming JSA is considered a lone parent rather than a mainstream claimant. The fund includes an amount ring fenced for certain groups of claimants, including: Lone parents Carers Partners Sick and disabled and other disadvantaged groups 58. For further information, see the Structure of the Fund section of FSF Guidance for District Managers. LMS Action and Management Information 59. To enable Management Information to be obtained, all FSF payments must be logged on LMS using the ADF Hotspot. 60. Grant Funding applications are not included, although awards to attend a Grant Funding funded opportunity are, for example travel or child care. 61. The categories on the ADF Hotspot drop down list are: Barriers to work: Clothing Barriers to work: Travel costs Barriers to work: Tools / equipment Barriers to work: Training / Certificates Childcare: Upfront Barriers to work: Other costs Barriers to work: CRB / PVG check Childcare: Adviser interview Childcare: Training Childcare: Work Trial Replacement care: Adviser interview Replacement care: Training Training related materials Training: Payment to providers (eg LVP) Travel: Training Travel: Adviser interview Travel: Work Trial Travel: Job interview Youth Unemployment Measures Long Term Unemployed: Travel & Childcare Others 62. Information to help you complete the Hotspot can be found in the LMS User Guide, Chapter H Part 1, Hotspots, Adviser Discretion Fund (ADF) section and the Payments to Remove Customer's Barriers to Work guidance, Labour Market System (LMS) Action section.

10 63. Information taken from the ADF Hotspot populates LMS Report XLRR This report is run on a four or five week cycle and sent to Employment Programme Financial Management Team Group leads to cascade to Districts. 64. This report should be used for any monitoring of awards in your office. See Monitoring awards for further information. Monitoring awards 65. Rather than advisers and local managers maintaining individual spreadsheets to monitor awards, which can present Security and Data Protection risks, LMS Report XLRR10116 should be used. 66. Employment Programme Financial Management Team Group leads cascade the report to Districts to be further cascaded to office level. 67. Extra columns can then be added to the report as required. Storing the report 68. The report must be stored securely. This must be done in one of the following two ways. Password protect the report and store it within a shared folder. Ensure only those that need to access the report know the password. Change the password if there is a change within the team or you have any other concerns. Store the report within a shared folder to which only those people who need to see the report have access. Storing the information 69. For Data Protection purposes, the report must only be kept for as long as the information is necessary. 70. For example, if you decide to monitor off flows for a three month period following FSF payments, the report must be deleted once this period has passed (unless there is a further need for the information to be kept). Table of Links 71. Advisers should refer to the table below for procedures to follow when making payments from the fund. Training payments to Providers (carers/lone parents/partners) Training Allowance payments Training related costs (carers/lone parents/partners) Travel expenses when attending JCP first/caseload-type interviews, provider/employer interviews or participating in a JCP approved activity. See Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of the Work Preparation Support for lone parents partners and carers guidance See the Training Allowances section of this guide See Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of the Work Preparation Support for lone parents partners and carers guidance See Payment of Travel Costs through the FSF

11 Travel expenses in first weeks of work Travel expenses when attending job interviews Travel expenses when attending JCP Work Trials Childcare (carers/lone parents/partners) CRB/PVG checks Replacement Care (carers/lone parents/partners Allowances (carers/lone parents/partners) Payments to remove Lone Parents barriers in first 26 weeks of work Payments to remove claimants barriers to work ESA/IB claimants travel expenses for specific interview ESA/IB claimants expenses for medical evidence Rapid Response Service Support Contract See Payments to Remove Customers Barriers to Work See Travel Expenses for Job Interviews See Travel Expenses for Work Trials See Payment of Childcare and Replacement Care Costs See Criminal Records Bureau and Protecting Vulnerable Groups checks See Payment of Childcare and Replacement Care Costs See Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of the Work Preparation Support for lone parents partners and carers guidance See In Work Emergency Payments to Lone Parents See Payments to Remove Customers Barriers to Work See Fares to Interview for Disabled People See Request for information from General Practitioners and Hospital Consultants See Rapid Response Service guidance See Jobcentre Plus Support Contract Adviser Guidance

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