Pathways to work: evaluation of the IB reform pilots

Funded by: Department for Work and Pensions


January 2004 to December 2008

PSI researchers:

Sergio Salis

Sandra Vegeris

Background, summary and aims

‘The Pathways to Work package of reforms (‘Pathways’, for short) is aimed at encouraging employment among people claiming incapacity benefits; that is, people claiming Incapacity Benefit or Income Support on the grounds of disability. Based on proposals outlined in the 2002 Department for Work and Pensions Green Paper ‘Pathways to Work: helping people into employment’, these reforms were first introduced on a pilot basis for new claimants in seven Jobcentre Plus districts and have since been extended to cover a third of the country. National roll-out is scheduled for April 2008. Existing claimants are free to participate in Pathways on a voluntary basis. In addition, mandatory participation for existing claimants is being piloted in the original seven Jobcentre Plus districts.

The main elements of Pathways are:

  • A series of mandatory work-focused interviews for those able to work but likely to need help
  • A ' Choices' package offering a range of new and existing programme provision aimed at improving labour market readiness and opportunities.
  • Improved financial incentives in the form of a Return to Work Credit customers who find work of at least 16 hours per week a weekly payment of £40 for a year if their gross annual earnings are below £15,000. Existing customers engaged in an activity linked to finding work can receive a Job Preparation Premium of £20 per week.

The evaluation of Pathways is being carried out by a consortium of research organisations led by the Policy Studies Institute and including the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Mathematica Policy Research, the National Centre for Social Research, the Social Policy Research Unit and David Greenberg of the University of Maryland. The evaluation is multi-faceted and involves qualitative analyses, large-scale quantitative surveys, impact analyses, cost-benefit analyses and a literature review of relevant programmes in the USA. It is also focusing on separate phases of the introduction of Pathways – the effect on new claimants in the original seven pilot areas, the effect on existing claimants in the original seven pilot areas and the effect on new claimants in areas of the country to which it has been recently extended.’