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Jobcentre Plus Flexible Support Fund

Published Wednesday, March 16, 2016

From April 2011 a number of schemes operated by Jobcentre Plus – including the Deprived Areas Fund, the Adviser Discretion Fund and the Travel to Interview Scheme – were abolished and replaced by the “Flexible Support Fund” (FSF). The FSF gives Jobcentre Plus Districts greater freedom to tailor back to work support to individual and local need.

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From April 2011 a number of schemes operated by Jobcentre Plus – including the Deprived Areas Fund, the Adviser Discretion Fund and the Travel to Interview Scheme – were abolished and replaced by the “Flexible Support Fund” (FSF).

The FSF gives Jobcentre Plus Districts greater freedom to tailor back-to-work support to individual and local need. Working within local guidelines and priorities, Jobcentre Plus advisers have discretion to decide how to help individuals move closer to or into work. The FSF also includes a grant funding mechanism, enabling Jobcentre Plus District Managers to award funding to local “partnerships” to address barriers to work. There is no exhaustive list of the needs that may be met by the FSF, but examples include travel expenses, training courses and clothing for interviews.

The budget allocated for the FSF in 14/15 was £136 million. £72 million was spent, leaving an underspend of £64 million.

Primary responsibility for publicising the fund lies with Jobcentre Plus advisors. However the Social Security Advisory Committee expressed concern at how little is known about the FSF and suggested its low profile allowed opportunities for partnerships with local authorities and agencies to be missed. An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme into a Universal Credit contact centre in Bolton found advisors choosing not to inform claimants about the FSF. One advisor likened the FSF to the illegal boxing clubs in the film Fight Club, in that they don’t talk about the FSF.

There is limited information on the FSF in the public domain. This note sets out such information as is currently available, including extracts from DWP guidance and responses to Freedom of Information requests.

Commons Briefing papers SN06079

Authors: Steven Kennedy; Terry McGuinness

Topic: Employment schemes

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