Employment support that works for everyone

Towards the end of last year, the Government published a consultation on work, health and disability. This consultation outlines the proposals for a new Health and Work Programme, which will replace the existing Work Programme later this year. The consultation is fairly broad-ranging and touches on the support offered to people, the assessment process, the role of employers and improving access to health services to ensure people have the right support to return to, or remain in, employment. 

In the consultation, there is a clear intention to introduce a more personalised, local approach to supporting people to overcome barriers to employment. A new Personal Support Package will be offered, targeted at people who are likely to be able to find work within 12 months but people with disabilities can volunteer at any time. From 2017, the Government intend to be able to offer a place on Work Choice or the Work and Health Programme to all eligible and suitable claimants who wish to volunteer.

The consultation document also addresses the issue of having the same assessment for financial and employment support and whether this has led to people being arbitrarily categorised and not able to access support. The Government is keen to look at ways the assessment process could be streamlined to ensure employment support is more personalised, with Work Coaches having more discretion to make decisions on a case-by-case basis and adjust requirements and goals as appropriate.

Other themes in the consultation include the role of employers in creating supportive workplaces so people can return to, or remain in, work and the need to increase the recognition of work as a health outcome across health and social care systems.

Although the consultation does recognise the role of other factors, such as housing, in supporting people to return to, or remain in accommodation, these are not explored in depth in the document. We know supported housing schemes can play a key role in helping people engage with employment, education and training, and would be interested in hearing your views on the employment support system.

We have outlined some key questions below – if you have any thoughts or comments, please email paula.reid@homelesslink.org.uk by Friday 10th February.

  1. From previous experience of the Work Programme and other welfare-to-work initiatives, what key principles should underpin a new employment support system?
  2. What are the biggest challenges people currently face in accessing the Work Programme and how should these be addressed in a new system?
  3. How can Jobcentres provide the right personal support at the right time for people? What specialist tools or support should work coaches have to help them offer the right support?
  4. How could the claims process be made more streamlined?
  5. Do you have any examples of good practice from your own organisation in supporting people back in to, or to remain in, employment?