Jobseeker Regime and Flexible New Deal (JRFND) Evaluation
January 2009 to December 2013
Background, summary and aims
Background, Scope and Aims
The consortium will deliver comprehensive support for the development of the JRFND implementation and the evaluation research, as well as provide robust evaluation evidence and rigorous reporting of that evidence. The research will have four different strands that complement and enrich each other. These include: (i) a Process Study, which combines qualitative and quantitative evidence on JRFND to inform the impact analyses, with provider research conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers UK and IFF Research conducting customer surveys to inform the process study and impacts (ii) quantitative impact analyses, with advice from Professor Jeff Smith (iii) cost-benefit analysis works together with Professor David Greenberg (iv) syntheses of evidence. A final component of this evaluation is advisory support from MDRC.
PSI provides overall evaluation leadership and management, conducting the impact analyses of administrative and survey data, the cost-benefit analyses, and syntheses of evidence, and a majority of the qualitative work in the process study.
The Jobseekers Regime and Flexible New Deal is an ambitious and complex set of policy interventions. The revised Jobseeker’s Regime and Flexible New Deal (JRFND) will be rolled out in two phases, the first from April 2009 and the second from April 2010. The Jobseeker’s Regime will be delivered by Jobcentre Plus and the Flexible New Deal by external providers. Further details of the reforms are set out in the Command Paper ‘Ready for Work: Full-time employment in our generation’ (December 2007). This project provides research to evaluate the reforms to the Jobseeker’s Allowance regime and the modernisation of the New Deals.
The consortium will deliver comprehensive support for the development of the JRFND implementation and the evaluation research, as well as provide robust evaluation evidence and rigorous reporting of that evidence. The research will have four different strands that complement and enrich each other. These include a Process Study, quantitative impact analyses, cost-benefit analyses works and syntheses of evidence.
Understanding what it takes to implement and to operate the new programmes and the best practices for doing so are among the important questions that the process study will try to answer. The process study of the evaluation is indispensable to making sense of the impact analysis. However encouraging it may be to find, for example, high rates of exit to employment for those who enter FND, it will be of limited use if we do not really understand why and how the providers are achieving this goal. Similarly, finding that customers at different stages of the JRFND fail to out-perform customers on the other regimes, or that employment outcomes were significantly higher in certain sites or for certain subgroups, will also create a need to try and understand why. The process study, accessing a wide range of data, will help provide this understanding. It will also help account for the cost of the programme. In conducting the process study, we aim to break into the ‘black box’ – the set of factors and forces that lie behind the impact findings but that often remain a mystery.
We are proposing to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of implementation and operational issues, and to integrate the findings thoroughly and creatively with the other evaluation evidence. The impact analyses will provide robust evidence of whether JRFND affects outcomes and the cost-benefit analyses will examine whether the costs are offset by these benefits.
Importance of Research
The evaluation will test the extent to which JRFND leads to additional employment outcomes for individuals in this client group and the cost effectiveness with which this is done. The evaluation will be a challenging and high profile project, which is heightened by the UK labour market environment of a recession and expansion of Jobseekers numbers with rising unemployment.