ERSA has today welcomed many of the recommendations in a new report by leading think tanks Social Market Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Employment support for a high wage economy, on the future of employment support.
In particular, it welcomes the focus on increasing wages to help people move out of poverty and the call to combine radical reform of Jobcentre Plus with an extension of Work Programme type provision.
As recognised recently by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the current Work Programme is meeting all targets and is delivering at least as well as previous employment programmes, but at a much reduced cost. However, ERSA agrees with the report’s recommendation that government’s twin aims of full employment and halving the disability employment gap demand a new approach to commissioning, including access to earlier specialised support for jobseekers and better funded support for those with complex needs.
As such, ERSA also welcomes the call for a new approach to the assessment and segmentation of jobseekers. At present, jobseekers are, in effect, streamed by Jobcentre Plus based on benefit type, which has proved an insufficient mechanism to recognise need or base the targeting of interventions and resources.
ERSA Chief Executive, Kirsty McHugh, said:
'With the financial statement almost upon us, we are looking to Government to invest in the areas necessary to deliver its dual aims of full employment and halving the disability employment gap.
'Current employment provision has delivered well for many jobseekers, with the Work and Pensions Select Committee recognising that it had performed as least as well as predecessor programmes, but at a greatly reduced cost to the public purse. However, the Work Programme was never designed or funded to get the majority of long term unemployed into long term jobs. We now need the government to take steps to reform the Jobcentre Plus regime which is focused on getting people off benefit rather than into work and to invest more heavily in supporting those with complex barriers to employment.'
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Notes to Editors
1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the sector body for those delivering or with an interest in employment support services. ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities. It has over 200 members, including all prime contractors of the Work Programme. The majority of its members are not for profit.
2. ERSA is able to set up interviews with jobseekers who have found work and providers of employment support services. Case studies are available on ERSA’s website. Interviews with ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh are available on request.
3. The Work and Pensions Select Committee report on back to work programmes, mentioned in this press release, can be found here.