New Deal Pilots: A Qualitative Evaluation of Quarterly Work Focussed Interviews, Work Search Premium and In Work Credit

Duration:

April 2005 to October 2007

PSI researchers:


Sandra Vegeris

Kathryn Ray

Background, summary and aims

The study is a qualitative evaluation of DWP pilots being delivered through Jobcentre Plus offices in select districts across England, Scotland and Wales. The pilots aim to encourage and sustain work among non-working parents. Target groups are lone parents in receipt of Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance for 12 or more months and partners of benefit recipients (IS, JSA, IB, SDA). The pilots provide extra support to supplement the New Deal for Lone Parents and the New Deal for Partners. Three pilots are being evaluated:

  • Quarterly Work Focussed Interviews for lone parents (mandatory participation) and partners (voluntary participation) whose youngest child is 12 years or older;
  • Work Search Premium for lone parents (voluntary);
  • In-Work Credit for eligible lone parents and partners (voluntary).

The overarching aim of the three pilots is to help reduce the number of children living in workless households. More specifically, the qualitative evaluation of the pilots aims:

  1. To probe the circumstances and backgrounds of select participants, reflecting the range of parents who participate in the pilots;
  2. To explore the impact of the pilots on attitudes, motivations and actions of participating eligible parents, and;
  3. To explore the delivery of the pilots, considering how the extra provision operates to achieve the impacts and how it could be more effective.

The study employs an iterative case study approach and concentrates on six of the implementation districts. Data collection runs for two years, from summer 2005 to spring 2007. The evaluation consists of three phases. Phase 1 will collect the perspectives of pilot delivery staff through key informant telephone interviews, site visits and workshops. In Phase 2, face-to-face interviews will take place with participating lone parents and couples. Select customers will be followed up with telephone interviews and two face-to-face interviews to form longitudinal case studies in Phase 3. The study will highlight different customer trajectories through the pilots and probe on factors that entered into customers' decision making. Pilot delivery staff will be consulted on the validity of the customer typologies that emerge from the findings.

For policy, the study will broaden understanding of the factors that contribute to parents' decisions to enter work and stay in work and, more specifically, assess how much weight financial incentives play in these decisions. It will compare and contrast the contributing circumstances of non-working lone and couple parent households. Additionally, the research will demonstrate the utility of qualitative methods in policy evaluation.