Employment support touches on a multitude of issues. ERSA has outlined its key policy positions across all areas in which we work in the ERSA Policy Grid, which can be accessed by members here. In addition, outlined below are ERSA's policy positions on a number of key topics. To discuss these further please contact email@example.com.
Conditionality and Sanctions
ERSA believes the conditionality system is in need of a fundamental reform and is calling for a more robust evidence base on the effectiveness of the regime to underpin any future policy making. ERSA believes there should be a warning system in place for a first offence and crucially employment advisers should be given more discretion over whether or not to ‘raise a doubt’ for a sanctionable offence, particularly if a vulnerability has been detected.
ERSA welcomes the Government’s aim of improving rates of ‘in-work progression’ – the extent to which individuals are able to progress in the labour market, thereby increasing earnings and decreasing reliance on in-work benefits. It believes that investment in skills and dedicated personalised career support, particularly at the lower end of the jobs market, is likely to pay dividends for individuals and their families, employers, plus the overall economy. ERSA's policy briefing on the topic can be found here.
ERSA supports the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) as a means to simplify what is currently a complex benefit system. In particular, ERSA welcomes the ambition of UC to help people transition from benefits to work, as well as increase hours worked. However ERSA has concerns about the impact of UC on the sector; specifically how people will be referred to support that meets their individual needs, with conditionality tailored, when benefit labels disappear. ERSA is also concerned about how UC will impact the self-employed. ERSA is calling for a reformed Jobcentre Plus under UC to be measured on employment outcomes. ERSA' s policy briefing on Universal Credit can be found here
Work Capability Assessment
ERSA believes that the Work Capability Assessment needs to be radically reformed so that it is a positive experience for jobseekers. Findings from the Work Capability Assessment should be shared with employment support providers so that they can design the best package of support that meets individual jobseeker’s needs, and tailor their conditionality requirements accordingly.ERSA' s policy briefing on the WCA can be found here.
Localism and devolution
ERSA believes that local authorities and other local services have a vital role to play in the future design and delivery of employment support provision. ERSA believes that the intelligence, expertise and coordinating role that local authorities bring are vital to creating a multiagency approach that meets the needs of all jobseekers. Integrating skills, health and employment support is critical to this, as is making better use of existing knowledge on future labour market demand.
Housing and employment
The social housing and employment support sectors have become closer in the past few years with a number of innovative joint projects taking place, as well as increasing interest from the housing sector in working with residents on their employability. If this interest and involvement is to be encouraged, commissioners should make it easier for social housing providers to take on publicly funded contracts; employment support programmes should encourage the co-ordination and integration of services between different providers and the capacity of the housing sector should be strengthened to provide good quality employment support to residents. Read the ERSA/ GUAC Housing and Employment Manifesto here.