"A Revolution in Back to Work Support"?
Around two and half million people are expected to be supported through the new Work Programme over the next five years, Employment Minister Chris Grayling said last week, as the programme rolls out across the country.
The Work Programme is the latest big milestone in the delivery of the Government’s radical welfare reforms. It is the biggest single payment by results employment programme ever introduced and replaces much of the existing back to work support on offer with a programme that is built around the needs of individual jobseekers.
Ministers are clear that the Work Programme will tackle the human consequences of endemic worklessness. Welfare to work providers around the country will now address the needs of the long-term unemployed claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and those on long-term sickness benefits who may need more intensive support to help them into sustained employment.
Under the new programme providers are free to innovate and design support based on the needs of jobseekers and local labour markets. The Government’s priority is to get people into employment that lasts.
In what is a boost to the Big Society, 508 voluntary sector groups including Mencap, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, youth charity The Prince’s Trust and Action for Blind People will all be involved in delivering the Work Programme.
Launching the Work Programme at a visit to Reed in Acton, Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:
“The Work Programme will tackle the endemic worklessness that has blighted so many of the country’s communities for decades. It is revolutionary in the way it tailors support to jobseekers’ individual needs and pays organisations primarily for getting people into sustained employment.
“We want to establish a deal, where we will do our bit and get people ready for work and in exchange we will expect people to take up the work that is available. We are sending out a clear message: if you can work, and we can help you find a job, you must work.
"Millions of people on out of work benefits who have previously been shunted from dole queue to training room to dole queue again will now finally be able to access support that's built around their needs."
Chris Melvin, Chief Executive, Reed in Partnership:
"The Work Programme represents a new era of delivering public services and Reed in Partnership is looking forward to helping thousands more people into work over the next five years."
Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA said:
“A real advantage of the Work Programme is that providers are being given the flexibility to use their specialist knowledge to provide jobseekers with support which is based on their needs rather than on what benefit they are on. The expertise which providers possess will help individuals overcome the barriers which prevent them from securing sustainable work.”
Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of Careers Development Group said:
“The Work Programme is a great opportunity to show how charities like Careers Development Group can have a major impact in helping people into work and helping them to stay in work.
“As a charity with nearly 30 years experience we have first class committed staff with the skills to be a success. In London East we, with our partners, will be supporting nearly 60,000 people on their journey into work over the next five years.
Everyone should be able to work given the right help. We treat everybody equally and believe that everyone, no matter what their difficulties and challenges are, can be supported into work.”
Providers will be paid primarily for supporting customers into employment and helping them stay there for longer than ever before, with higher payments for supporting the hardest to help. They will be paid partly through the benefit savings made from the people they help get back to work – the first time such an approach has been tried in this country. Over the course of the seven years the contracts will run, the total value is likely to be between £3bn - £5bn.
The Work Programme replaces much of the complex range of employment support currently on offer including the New Deals, Employment Zones and Pathways to Work. These programmes were overly prescriptive and failed to achieve enough positive job outcomes for the long-term unemployed or good value for money for the taxpayer.
Success in the Work Programme is uncapped, so the rewards on offer to providers are potentially greater than before as long as they make a real difference to long-term unemployment. This is a huge step towards supporting the almost five million people currently on out of work benefits into sustainable employment.
June 17, 2011