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A positive start to Intensive Client Support (ICS) service

Work in 2012-2013 indicated that people who entered the benefit system before the age of 20 generally have more complex challenges towards employment as adults, higher risk of staying on benefit longer and often require more support while on benefit.

In response, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) created a new case management approach called the Intensive Client Support (ICS) service. The focus of ICS service is for participants to work collaboratively with their case manager to address their individual challenges, iteratively progressing (stair-casing) towards work-readiness before focusing on employment.

Other key differences for ICS service include:

  • A specialised case manager – Intensive Client Support Manager (ICSM)
  • Smaller caseload of 40 people (later increased to 60) allowing more time and flexibility to work with each participant
  • Holistic approach to support the participant and their whānau.

The ICS cohort includes people who:

  • Entered the benefit system before the age of 20 [1],[2]
  • Receive a Jobseeker – Work Ready (JS – WR) benefit at time of selection
  • Are aged 18-39 years at time of selection (later changed to 25-39 years old).

[1] While there is some variation for age of first benefit between the ICS trial and ICS-X trial, it is always before the age of 20.

[2] There are some exemptions if the person previously received a sickness-based benefit.

ICS trial (March 2015 to March 2018)

The ICS trial was established as a randomised control trial to measure the effectiveness of ICS service in comparison to other business-as-usual services. Qualitative evaluations looked at how the service was operating and to gain insights into participants’ experiences of receiving ICS service.

The first evaluation to be released is a qualitative 24-month case study report from Gravitas Research.

Quantitative evaluation results will be published in early 2020.

Key findings

  • Participants prefer the ICS service approach over other services
  • ICSMs used stair-casing techniques effectively to help participants into sustainable employment, however the degree of success varied among participants and depended on their individual circumstances

Download the report

ICS-X trial (March 2018 to March 2021)

Building on early success, the Intensive Client Support – Extension (ICS-X) trial scales up service from six to 25 ICSMs (serving 1500 participants at any time). The ICS cohort is also expanded to include people receiving the Jobseeker – Health Condition and Disability (JS – HCD) benefit.

The 12-month evaluations for ICS-X trial will be published in 2020.

For enquiries about this research, please email

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