Pathways to Work from Incapacity Benefits: A study of experience and use of Return to Work Credit

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Corden, A ; Nice, K (2006)
  • Publisher: Corporate Document Services

The Pathways to Work/Incapacity Benefit Reforms pilot was introduced in October 2003 and aims to increase the number of incapacity benefit recipients who move towards and into paid work. The reforms comprise a package of measures, initially introduced in seven Jobcentre Plus districts in England, Scotland and Wales. A further 14 districts are being phased into the pilot from October 2005. This report presents findings from a focused study of Return to Work Credit (RTWC) and is based on qualitative research conducted by the Social Policy Research Unit, the National Centre for Social Research and the Policy Studies Institute in 2005/06. This study is one of several being undertaken to inform the overall evaluation of the Pathways to Work pilots.
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    Summary ....................................................................................................... 1 1 Introduction .................................................................................... 9 1.1 Incapacity Benefit reform: Pathways to Work ................................. 10 1.2 Evaluation of Pathways to Work .................................................... 11 1.2.1 Net impact analysis .......................................................... 11 1.2.2 Cost benefit analysis ........................................................ 11 1.2.3 Process evaluation ........................................................... 11 1.3 Return to Work Credit ................................................................... 12 1.4 Aim of study ................................................................................. 15 1.5 Design and methods ..................................................................... 15 1.6 Structure of the report .................................................................. 16

    2 Knowledge and understanding of Return to Work Credit, and influence on decisions to work ......................................................... 17 2.1 Learning about Return to Work Credit and initial perceptions ........ 17 2.1.1 Learning about RTWC after making arrangements to work ..................................................... 18 2.1.2 Learning while thinking about work ................................. 18 2.2 Initial understanding of rules ......................................................... 19 2.3 Influences of Return to Work Credit on views and decision making about work ......................................................... 21 2.3.1 People who learned about RTWC after making arrangements to work ..................................................... 21 2.3.2 People who learned about RTWC while thinking about working ................................................................. 22 2.4 Discussion ..................................................................................... 25

    3 Experiences of receipt: What difference did Return to Work Credit make? ................................................................. 27 3.1 Making work financially worthwhile .............................................. 27 3.2 Improving financial security and enabling freedom in spending ...... 29 3.3 Not making a significant difference ............................................... 31 3.4 Discussion ..................................................................................... 31

    4 Experiences of receipt: The elements of Return to Work Credit ............... 33 4.1 Application and reapplication ........................................................ 33 4.1.1 First application ............................................................... 33 4.1.2 Evidence of earnings ........................................................ 34 4.1.3 Reapplication ................................................................... 34 4.2 Amount ........................................................................................ 35 4.3 Duration ....................................................................................... 36 4.4 Method and periodicity of delivery ................................................ 37 4.5 Overall impressions........................................................................ 38 4.6 Suggestions for changes and alternative forms of support ............. 39 4.6.1 Suggestions for changes to RTWC ................................... 39 4.6.2 Suggestions for alternative forms of support .................... 40 4.7 Discussion ..................................................................................... 40

    5 Expectations and experiences of the end of Return to Work Credit ......... 43 5.1 Expiry ............................................................................................ 43 5.1.1 Anticipation of the end of RTWC ..................................... 44 5.1.2 Financial impact ............................................................... 44 5.1.3 Decisions made in response to loss of RTWC .................... 45 5.2 Ending Return to Work Credit before expiry .................................. 46 5.2.1 Anticipation of the end of RTWC ..................................... 47 5.2.2 Impact of RTWC ending before expiry .............................. 48 5.3 People in receipt of Return to Work Credit .................................... 50 5.3.1 Understanding expiry of RTWC ........................................ 50 5.3.2 Thinking towards expiry ................................................... 50 5.4 Discussion ..................................................................................... 52

    6 Discussion and conclusions ..................................................................... 53 6.1 Study findings ............................................................................... 53 6.1.1 How did people find out about RTWC? ........................... 53 6.1.2 What were initial perceptions, and how did these influence decisions about work? ............................. 54 6.1.3 What was the experience of the application process and renewal? ...................................................... 54 6.1.4 How do people use RTWC monies, and what is the financial impact? ....................................................... 54 6.1.5 What are people's views on the amount, duration and delivery of payments? ...................................................... 55 6.1.6 What is the employment and financial situation among people whose RTWC claim has expired?............... 55 6.1.7 What is the experience of people whose RTWC ended before the expiry date? ......................................... 56 6.1.8 How do current recipients view expiry of RTWC? ............. 57

    6.2 Implications for policy.................................................................... 57

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