Missed Jobcentre appointments 'cost £16m'

Missed appointments at Jobcentres cost £16m
Missed appointments at Jobcentres cost £16m

Missed appointments at Jobcentres cost £16 million last year, a new report from the financial watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) says 1.8 million appointments with Jobcentre Plus personal advisors were missed last year, out of a total of 10.8 million interviews.

Not only is this costing money, but the report says missed interviews add to the already significant amount of administration that personal advisors are required to do.

The NAO finds that the more than 9,000 advisors spend just 52 per cent of their time interviewing people. While some the remaining time is spent training and doing vital paperwork, the watchdog says too much is spent on mundane tasks.

However, the report finds that efforts are being taken to make jobseekers more aware of their obligation to turn up on time, and acknowledges that new diary support officers were introduced in September to take over some of the day-to-day administration.

Overall, the watchdog praises personal advisors, saying they provide an "effective and highly valued service" for people looking for work.

The NAO finds that personal interviews, which last between 20 minutes and an hour, help improve jobseekers' confidence and are key in getting people off benefits.

Auditor general John Bourn said: "Overall my findings are encouraging. Personal advisers have proved themselves an effective means of supporting people on benefits looking for work and they are delivering a good service.

"But, as my report shows, the benefits could be even greater. Better support for personal advisors would allow them more time to do what they do best - actually sitting down with the people who need guidance."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said today's report was "welcome recognition" for the part personal advisors played in keeping UK employment high. Recent figures show 74.5 per cent of people of working age are currently in jobs.

"The report highlights that nine million customers did attend their interviews, however we are doing more to ensure we cut the number of missed appointments," he said.

"Contact centre staff have been working with customers to agree appointments and, in known problem areas, we call customers to remind them of their appointment details.

"We are also cutting paperwork by providing dedicated administrative support for advisors, leaving them free to concentrate on helping our customers back into work."


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