The key takeaway for me is how much the Chancellor is prioritising getting people back into work. Looking across the board, the various funding streams create a comprehensive, and thoughtfully designed suite of employment support packages that recognises the challenges of getting people back into work in a difficult labour market.
For some in the public, the £2.9 billion allocated to the Restart programme may look like an eye-watering amount, so as a sector, it is critical now that we demonstrate just how much impact this funding will have, and the value for money large scale employment programmes have on the economy. I imagine that Restart will look a lot like Work Programme. And despite its rocky start, the Work Programme was a success, despite what some may say. There’s a lot of good learning in the Work Programme, as well as understanding what could be better. With large scale employment programmes, we will come back to the importance of assessments, to ensure that allocation is more nuanced than by what type of benefit they are on, but rather that it is the right programme, and the right time, for that individual.
Like many others, I wish that we had gotten more on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. A one year pilot isn’t going to work as a replacement in delivering the same level of ESF outcomes. ESF funds long term, comprehensive programmes for those who need individualised support to move back into the labour market. What are we piloting over a year? If government is piloting who is responsible for the funds, then there is opportunity. But if the plan is to pilot “what works”, I would argue that ESF is a storied programme with decades of evidence base on what works. We will continue to work with local governments to inform the best programmes for those who need it most.
Annie Dell, The Salvation Army