How the programme works
The Steps 2 Success programme is being delivered by organisations called lead contractors, with support from local providers, in different regions in Northern Ireland.
The programme is voluntary for those claiming Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Pension Credits. You must take part in the programme if you've been on Jobseeker's Allowance for a specific time.
By taking part in the Steps 2 Success programme, you will receive support to prepare for work, get a job and progress in work with the support of your adviser and lead contractor.
Each lead contractor will work with local contractors to deliver the programme in the following regions:
The Belfast area covers the Jobs and Benefits Offices/JobCentres at: Andersonstown, Falls Road, Shankill, Holywood Road, Shaftesbury Square Corporation Street, Newtownards, Bangor, Lisburn and Knockbreda.
Ingeus UK Ltd will deliver the programme in strategic partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College and supported by:
- Armstrong Works
- Springvale Training
The Northern region covers the Jobs and Benefits Offices/JobCentres at Newtownabbey, Antrim, Larne, Carrickfergus, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady, Foyle, Lisnagelvin and Strabane.
PeoplePlus NI will deliver the programme in the Northern region supported by:
- Customized Training Services
- Network Personnel
- North City Business Centre
- Roe Valley Community Education Forum
To find out more about PeoplePlus NI you can contact them at either:
- Foyle Area Employment Centre telephone 028 7127 7777
- Newtownabbey Employment Centre, telephone 028 9521 3222.
- Steps 2 Success (PeoplePlus NI website)
The Southern region covers the Jobs and Benefits Offices/JobCentres at Magherafelt, Cookstown, Dungannon, Omagh, Enniskillen, Banbridge, Lurgan, Portadown, Armagh, Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, Newcastle, Kilkeel and Newry.
Reed in Partnership will deliver the programme in the Southern region, supported by:
- GLOBAL Education (NI) Ltd (GEL)
- Network Personnel
- Rutledge Training and Recruitment
- South East Regional College (SERC)
Progression to Employment plan
While on the programme your lead contractor will provide you with support, agreed with you, to achieve your jobs goals. This is called a ‘Progression to Employment Plan’ and will be personal to you. Your contractor will help you by:
- allocating an adviser to you when you join the programme
- discussing your job goals, previous work experience and individual circumstances
- agreeing your personal 'Progression to Employment Plan' with you which will set out what will be done to help you get a job
- agreeing the in-work support available to help you stay in work when you find a job
While taking part in Steps 2 Success you will continue to receive any benefits you are entitled to. Your contractor will provide you with details of financial help and allowances which are available when you join the programme.
How you take part in Steps 2 Success
You have to take part in Steps 2 Success if you're unemployed and on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) for:
- nine months if aged 18 to 24
- 12 months if aged 25 or over
If you are on JSA and are referred to Steps 2 Success as an early entrant, after 13 weeks, you must also take part in the programme. This will happen if your Employment Service adviser feels you would benefit from early entry to the programme.
If you are taking part in Steps 2 Success, you will receive a letter from your local Jobs and Benefits Office/ JobCentre inviting you to come to a Steps 2 Success referral interview with your Employment Service adviser. Your adviser will give you more information on Steps 2 Success and tell you who your local provider is. Your local provider will contact you to arrange for you to start the programme.
If you're claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), your participation in Seps 2 Success is voluntary and will not affect any benefits you're claiming.
How long the programme lasts
You must take part in the programme for 52 weeks. However, support is available for up to 78 weeks if your adviser thinks you would benefit from joining the programme early.
Support to help you find work will be available:
- for up to 12 months, if you are getting JSA
- for up to 18 months if you are getting JSA and your adviser considers that you would benefit from joining the programme after 13 weeks
- for up to 12 months for clients on Income Support, Pension Credit and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) who volunteer to enter the programme
If you're getting ESA you'll get help to prepare for work and don't have to take up employment, go to job interviews, do work experience or attend medical assessments (unless you want to).
When taking part in Steps 2 Success you will still continue to get your social security benefit and must continue to sign every fortnight. Failure to sign could affect your JSA.
Help with travel and childcare costs
When taking part in the programme travel costs will be paid. You may also get help if you need to arrange childcare for young children.
Your contractor will give you details of available help.
The contractor has to deliver the programme to a standard set by government called a service guarantee. Your contractor will give you a copy of the service guarantee relevant to you when you start the programme.
How to complain
If you're not happy with the service provided by your contractor you should raise your concerns with them as soon as you can. The contractor will give you details of their complaints procedure if you feel you need to make a formal complaint.
All complaints received by your contractor will be investigated and you'll be told the outcome of this investigation.
If you're not satisfied with this, you can complain to the government department responsible as follows:
Department for Communities
Head of Programme Management Development Branch
The Design Centre
If you refuse a job without good reason, or you don't fully take part on Steps 2 Success, your Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and National Insurance credits could be stopped at any stage while you're on the programme. This is called a sanction.
Reasons for sanctions
There is no reason why you should find yourself facing a sanction. Once you have started Steps 2 Success your lead contractor will always be there to speak to if you need help and support. However, you will face a sanction if:
- you don't go to the Social Security / Jobs and Benefits office or JobCentre when asked
- you refuse to join the programme, leave early or do not attend or fully take part as agreed with your contractor
- you're dismissed from Steps 2 Success because of unacceptable behaviour
Your JSA payments could be stopped as a result of a sanction, so it's very important that you bring any issue which may affect your attendance or participation on the programme to the attention of your:
- Employment Service adviser before you're referred to Steps 2 Success
- contractor if you've already joined Steps 2 Success
The sanctions process
If you fail to start Steps 2 Success, stop taking part, or you lose your place because of your behaviour, a decision maker will look at the reasons why.
Staff at your local Social Security Office/JBO will normally ask you to write down what happened and why. If you find this difficult, ask the member of staff for help. This information will help the decision maker to decide if you had good reasons for not meeting your responsibilities.
If the decision maker decides that you did not have good reason or that you lost your place on the Steps 2 Success programme because of your behaviour, you will receive a sanction which means your JSA will be stopped.
How long your Jobseeker’s Allowance will be stopped
If a sanction is imposed the JSA payments that you receive will be stopped for two, four or 26 weeks.
Your JSA will stop for two weeks the first time you:
- give up, refuse or fail to attend Steps 2 Success without good reason
- are asked to leave because of unacceptable behaviour
Your JSA will be stopped for four weeks if, within 12 months of a first sanction, you:
- give up, refuse or fail to go to Steps 2 Success without good reason
- are asked to leave because of unacceptable behaviour
Your payment of Jobseeker's Allowance will be stopped for 26 weeks if you have already received a four week sanction in the last 12 months, and you again fail to meet your responsibilities.
If you lose payments and you are a member of a joint claim, your partner will receive a payment equal to a single person’s payment while your sanction is in force.
If you need any information or explanation about your responsibilities while on Steps 2 Success you should speak to your contractor.
What to do if Jobseeker's Allowance is stopped
It's important that you go to the Jobs & Benefit Office/Jobcentre or Social Security Office every time you are asked to do so, even if your JSA payments have been stopped. By doing this you may still be able to receive the other benefits, such as Housing Benefit, which you may be claiming.
If you did not start your programme, your Employment Service adviser will work with you to help you join the programme as quickly as possible
Your contractor will help you rejoin the programme if:
- you have left Steps 2 Success before you should have done
- you leave Steps 2 Success but find you have to make a claim for JSA again within 13 weeks
How you can get money if you receive a sanction
If you receive a sanction, you need to get back on to the Steps 2 Success programme as quickly as possible so that your payments can start again. You should talk to your contractor about your circumstances and the best way to get back on the programme. For some groups of people there may be emergency financial help available.
Jobseeker’s Allowance payments because of hardship
You may be able to get a reduced rate of JSA if you haven’t completed Steps 2 Success and you fall into one of the following groups:
- you have children, or you or your partner are pregnant
- you or your partner are disabled or long-term sick
- you or your partner, have significant caring responsibilities
This is not an automatic entitlement and you will have to show that you are suffering financial hardship. You should contact your local Jobs and Benefits Office/Social Security Office to discuss this matter. You may not be able to get hardship payments if you don't fall into one of the above categories.
If you haven’t completed Steps 2 Success
If a sanction has been placed on your JSA before you have finished Steps 2 Success, you will not receive your normal JSA payments. However, as soon as you re-engage in the programme you will receive an allowance even if a period of sanction is outstanding.
If you receive a 26 week sanction and have not completed Steps 2 Success, but refuse to re-engage in the programme, you will not receive any JSA payments until the end of the sanction period. You should work with your contractor to move back into the programme as soon as possible so you can start to receive money once again.
If you have completed Steps 2 Success
If you have completed your full period on Steps 2 Success and part of your sanction is left, you will still have to serve the rest of your sanction. You should contact your local Social Security Office to discuss this matter if you need more information.
Rejoining Steps 2 Success after a sanction
If you have received a 26 week sanction, but you agree to re-engage in Steps 2 Success, you must contact your contractor and the Customer Enquiry Team, at your local Social Security Office/Jobs and Benefits Office. You will then have your JSA reinstated provided at least four weeks of the sanction period have been served.
For further information contact your local Jobs and Benefits Office or Job Centre.