Work and Health Programme Pioneer Support – Tackling economic inactivity and helping disabled Londoners into decent work

Central London Works - Work and Health Programme

Work and Health Programme Pioneer Support – Tackling economic inactivity and helping disabled Londoners into decent work

Despite the strength of London’s economy, the capital has the lowest employment rate of anywhere in England. That is partly due to high levels of unemployment. But it’s also due to high levels of ‘economic inactivity’. 1.3 million Londoners – over one in five – are economically inactive, meaning they are neither in employment, nor are they actively seeking or ready to start work. Of these, 280,000 are economically as a result of a disability or health condition. While one in six economically inactive Londoners say they want to be in work, this group has previously received little support from DWP-funded programmes.

Today, we are delighted to launch Work and Health Programme Pioneer Support, a new employment support service to help disabled and economically inactive residents in central London into decent work.

Funded by £2.9m secured from Department for Work and Pensions, Work and Health Programme Pioneer Support will be based on the ‘place and train’ model of employment support. Rather than focusing on removing barriers to work, and then support people to search for work, place and train is a supported employment model which helps people to move into work rapidly, and then provides ongoing support to help them to stay in work, and to thrive. The model has been shown to be highly effective, particularly with people who have disabilities and mental health conditions.

Participation in the programme is voluntary. Participants will be matched with a personal advisor to support them through the programme. On starting the programme, they will explore the type of job and career they want to go into, based on their previous experience, skills and interests, and they will then be matched with local job opportunities. Once in employment, both the jobseeker and their employer will be provided with wraparound in-work support to ensure they sustain in work.

The support will be delivered by Ingeus through Central London Works, our devolved Work and Health Programme. Since 2018, the programme has supported over 8,000 central London residents into employment. This new funding will enable us to provide support to an additional 1,400 residents over the next year, of whom over a third are expected to move into sustainable employment.

We want our employment support to be evidence-led. So we have conducted a review of evaluations of ‘place and train’ employment support programmes to understand what works, and identify best practice for our programme.

We want our employment programmes to be user-led, and informed by the lived experience of those they seek to support. So we are working with disabled peoples’ organisations to shape service design and the support offer.

And we want our employment support to be responsive to the needs of the local economy. So we will be working closely with employers – both to source vacancies and to improve practices around disability employment.

The new Work and Health Programme Pioneer Support is intended to be a forerunner to a major new employment programme – Universal Support. This new £2bn programme – which is due to be rolled out in autumn 2024 – will replace the Work and Health Programme. We have been making the case to Government for this programme to be devolved to local government. Building on the progress we have seen with the Work and Health Programme – which was devolved both in the capital and in Greater Manchester – this would enable local areas to tailor support to local needs, to bring services together, and to build a system that works.

More information on the support available through Work and Health Programme Pioneer Support – including how to join the programme or refer someone for support – is available here.

Joe Dromey is Director of Central London Forward, 13/09/2023