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Partnership Agreement between Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus by redheadwaitress

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									Partnership Agreement between Citizens Advice & Jobcentre Plus
Introduction

This Partnership Agreement sets out the commitment Jobcentre Plus and Citizens
Advice have made at national level to work together to improve the links between
Jobcentre Plus and the Citizens Advice service in England and Wales so as to
improve services to the public. Whilst this agreement is not intended to be legally
binding it does set out the steps we intend to take to achieve the better links between
Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx), and Jobcentre Plus we believe are
vital to the mutual success of our respective organisations in delivering services to
the public.

General

Jobcentre Plus helps around 850,000 people each year into work, and pays benefits
to 6.5 million people. CABx advise over 2 million people each year on employment,
benefits and tax credits. Many of our clients and customers are the same people,
many of them the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, and local
bureaux and Jobcentre Plus regularly need to be in contact.

The need for a close working relationship, which should develop and move towards
clear objectives, has become increasingly evident as our organisations have moved
through a recent period of substantial organisational change.

Aims and Structures

Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus is an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions
(DWP). The DWP aims to ‘promote opportunity and independence for all’. Jobcentre
Plus plays a major role in delivering this aim through providing ‘work for those who
can, and support for those who cannot’ by

      helping disadvantaged people into work, as a route out of poverty
      providing financial support as a safety net for people of working age while
       they are out of work
      addressing inequalities of opportunity
      protecting the integrity of the benefit system, and
      working with employers and partners to address market failure in the labour
       market

Jobcentre Plus provides a range of services for individuals and employers, both
directly and in partnership with other organisations. Every working day, Jobcentre
Plus helps around 6,500 customers move into work; conducts 45,000 adviser
interviews; processes over 15,000 new benefit claims and takes over 66,000 calls
through its contact centres.


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       Partnership Agreement between Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus


Jobcentre Plus is radically changing the way its services are delivered with the aim
of improving its customer service. As well as a national network of Jobcentres, it now
operates a network of Contact Centres and Benefit Delivery Centres. All three form
Jobcentre Plus’s 'One customer, one service, one business' vision. Each has an
equally important contribution to make and together they deliver the overall end-to-
end service to customers.

The Citizens Advice service has the following aims:

      Provide independent free confidential and impartial advice to everyone
       regardless of race, sex, disability or sexuality, promote equal opportunities
       and fight discrimination;
      Exercise a responsible influence on the development of policies and services;
      Ensure that individuals, and especially those in vulnerable groups, have
       access to the advice services best able to meet their needs.

The Citizens Advice service provides free, confidential advice to everybody
regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age or nationality. Bureaux
give advice from more than 3,000 outlets in England and Wales including high street
offices and outreach sessions in GP surgeries, colleges, workplaces and community
centres, in clients' homes, on the phone and by email.

Over, 6,000 paid staff and more than 20,000 trained volunteers delivered advice to
help clients deal with 5.7 million new problems in 2006/07, on issues such as debt,
benefits, housing, employment and consumer matters. Over a third of advice work
concerns employment, benefits and tax credits. Advisers can help fill out forms, write
letters, negotiate with creditors and represent clients at court or tribunal.

Each Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent registered charity and is a member
of Citizens Advice (Citizens Advice is an operating name of the National Association
of Citizens Advice Bureaux) which sets standards for advice, training, equal
opportunities and accessibility. Bureaux rely on funding from their local authority and
from local business, charitable trusts and individual donations.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice Bureaux are supported by Citizens Advice which provides
membership services, infrastructure support and leadership to member bureaux.

Citizens Advice is a registered charity, relying on statutory grants and charitable
donations to undertake vital support and service development for bureaux. The work
of Citizens Advice is mainly funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and
Regulatory Reform (BERR).

Within Citizens Advice teams of people working nationally provide all the information
that bureaux advisers need to advise their clients, information for bureaux managers
and design and deliver all the training needed for new generalist CAB advisers each
year. Citizens Advice sets standards for bureaux and measures, through audit,
management standards and quality of advice in the CAB service.




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       Partnership Agreement between Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus


A network of field offices based in three Areas and Wales, each headed by a
Director provide direct management consultancy and support to bureau managers.
In each Area and Wales partnership development managers will be responsible for
keeping an overview of working relationships between CABx and Jobcentre Plus at
an Area and local levels.

National policy and public affairs functions represent bureaux and their clients and
campaign for better public services and provide feedback to government and service
providers based on evidence from advising clients.

Citizens Advice provides information directly to the public through the website
www.adviceguide.co.uk and publications.

Building partnership working

Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus will take joint responsibility for working together
to:

      Put the needs of our joint customers at the heart of the partnership;
      Improve access to services for socially excluded groups and individuals;
      Commit to developing good practice in working together;
      Ensure good communication takes place between the two organisations

Partnership development - Aims and desired outcomes

Jobcentre Plus and Citizens Advice recognise that CAB advisers are in regular
contact with Jobcentre Plus in the course of advising and supporting clients. They
also acknowledge that bureau staff have direct experience of Jobcentre Plus
services and can make a valuable contribution to improvements and future
developments.

The overall aims of the partnership agreement therefore are to ensure that

      Bureaux are able to give their customers who use Jobcentre Plus services the
       best possible advice and support
      Citizens Advice has the opportunity to contribute to the development of
       Jobcentre Plus services to help improve current services, and to inform
       development in the future.

To meet these aims, Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus will produce and keep
under review a shared plan for the development of partnership working.

The key outcomes we would jointly like to see result from the plan and which we will
further clarify and define as we move forward are as follows:

      Improved mutual understanding of the respective organisations’ roles,
       activities and strategies.
      Effective national and local arrangements to allow individuals in Jobcentre
       Plus, Citizens Advice and CABx to readily contact each other in the delivery of
       their duties including, for example, to establish the position of a claim to
       benefit and where appropriate work to resolve outstanding issues.


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       Partnership Agreement between Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus


      Clear mechanisms through which issues arising, that are not resolved to the
       satisfaction of the parties, can be timeously escalated to a higher level within
       respective organisations.
      Regular meaningful liaison (in the form of meetings or teleconferences etc. as
       appropriate) at each relevant level eg. national, regional/country, Citizens
       Advice Area and Jobcentre Plus District to facilitate the sharing, as
       appropriate, of information and plans etc. This will include timely notification
       and discussion of significant service changes with potential to impact upon our
       mutual customers.

More specifically, the plan will examine the best way of agreeing the following:

      Good telephone access for CAB staff to Jobcentre Plus processing centres,
       contact centres and local offices to establish progress on claims, with specific
       named individuals and direct line numbers
      Effective contacts for CAB staff and Citizens Advice with Jobcentre Plus at a
       management level, with named individuals and direct line numbers, to
       escalate problems where necessary.
      Contact and liaison arrangements between CABx in each Jobcentre Plus
       District
      Clearer understanding of developments in the local labour market in order to
       help our mutual clients find work
      Monitoring the effectiveness of the contact and liaison arrangements in each
       District
      An escalation route beyond this, at a senior level in Jobcentre Plus and
       Citizens Advice, where problems cannot be resolved
      Specific national contact points within Jobcentre Plus and within Citizens
       Advice for resolving problems
      To facilitate access and contact arrangements, the development of improved
       methods to enable CAB advisers to find telephone numbers to be able to
       contact Jobcentre Plus to discuss individual cases, together with contact
       numbers for named individuals who can escalate problems resolving cases.
      Regular liaison (in the form of meetings or teleconferences as appropriate) at
       a Jobcentre Plus District level, and also with contact issues such as frequency
       and purpose of meetings, how agendas will be compiled and agreed,
       representation and frequency, and how actions should be taken and
       monitored
      Meaningful and timely consultation and discussion at national and local levels
       on significant service changes which potentially impact upon our mutual
       customers.

Developing and agreeing the plan

Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus will work together to develop and agree the
initial plan before the end of 2007.

As part of the plan we will agree Relationship Managers, who will act as a point of
contact for the consideration of issues of common interest and to promote the
partner relationship in their respective organisations. In addition to working towards



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       Partnership Agreement between Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus


the delivery of the key outcomes agreed in this plan, the roles and responsibilities of
the Relationship Managers are to:

      Work with the relevant colleagues in Jobcentre Plus and Citizens Advice to
       draw up and agree the Plan
      Identify key areas of common interest and opportunities for future joint
       working;
      Keep each other informed of issues that might impact on the partnership;
      Monitor the effectiveness of the contact and liaison arrangements;
      Inform the other of key personnel changes within their respective organisation
       and/or exchange organisational maps;
      Assess and review the working relationship periodically;
      Meet at least twice each year (inviting colleagues where appropriate);
      Communicate the existence of this agreement and the partnership
       development plan and its importance to staff and volunteers within each
       other’s respective organisation.
      Champion closer working between Citizens Advice and Jobcentre Plus and
       periodically review the progress and effectiveness of the relationship and the
       arrangements that support it.

Account Managers

Citizens Advice Account Manager

Jackie Nowell
Head of Partnership Development
Myddelton House
115 -123 Pentonville Road
London N1 9LZ

Tel: 020 7833 7199

Email: jackie.nowell@citizensadvice.org.uk

Jobcentre Plus Account Manager

John Barthram
Partnerships Division
External Relations & Communication Directorate
Rockingham House (Level 1 East)
123 West Street
Sheffield S1 4ER

Tel: 0114 259 5305

Email: john.barthram@jobcentreplus.gsi.gov.uk




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