Understanding interactions between social security claimants and frontline employment advisers – public and private provision in the UK

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Advisory and job brokerage services for unemployed people have been delivered, traditionally, by the public sector in the UK (Bruttel 2005). However, under Blair’s New Labour Government, some of these services were contracted out to private providers. This included a pilot, from 1998 to 2000, of ‘Employment Zones’ (EZs), which were aimed at those, aged 25 or older, who had been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for a minimum of 12-18 months (Bruttel 2005, Conolly et al 2010, Griffiths, Durkin and Mitchell 2006). To qualify for EZ status, providers had to operate in one of the UK’s 150 worst local authority areas as measured by a set of employment-related indices. From 2003/04 to 2009/10, 15 “fully fledged EZs” were contracted to provide certain services in place of the public sector organisation, Jobcentre Plus (JCP) (Bruttel 2005, 391). In effect, the EZs offered either a replacement for, or alternative to, the relevant ‘New Deal’ programmes on offer at the time through JCP (Bruttel 2005, 392). This dual operation allowed for a relatively direct comparison between public and private sector provision.
Original languageEnglish
Article number423
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Work & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2015


  • social security
  • unemployment
  • social security claimants
  • advisers

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