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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2006): Social security - UK - New Deal

Consuming work: front-line workers and their customers in Jobcentre Plus

P. Rosenthal and R. Peccei

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol.19, 2006, p.659-672

This paper explores how the ideal of customer sovereignty is being expressed and enacted in the practice of public administration. It analyses how public administrators use consumer discourses to manage service consumption in particular ways and to particular ends, and the pivotal role of frontline workers in these efforts. These questions are explored through a case study of Jobcentre Plus, the agency charged with delivery of the government’s welfare-to-work agenda. It is argued that service users are encouraged to internalise a sense of themselves as being simultaneously in charge and controlled. They are regulated by the agency, but are also offered an illusion of sovereignty. Within more individualised service interactions, frontline staff encourage the consumption of a complex range of resources and values designed to improve employability.

Don’t call us …

N. Bateman

Community Care, Nov. 16th-22nd 2006, p.32-33

Jobcentre Plus was set up in 2001 as part of the Labour government’s social security reforms to offer help and advice on benefits and job-seeking under one roof. However the quality of the service offered by Jobcentre Plus has deteriorated due to staff reductions and organisational changes, including the centralisation of benefits processing and the introduction of a call centre approach to new claims.

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