Commenting on today’s announcements Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, said:
“Employment support has been delivering well for many jobseekers. We therefore welcome the Government’s commitment to building on the success of Work Programme and Work Choice with new provision in 2017 focused on jobseekers with most need.
‘The benefits and employment support landscape however can be tricky to navigate for many jobseekers. We are therefore looking forward to working with government to understand how the different parts of the system will work together and, in particular, to see the financial details of the new programme. Much has been learned by the sector about how to support jobseekers with the most need into work – this knowledge needs to be fully utilised in the new provision.
‘ERSA also welcomes today’s announcements of day 1 referral to specialist support under Universal Credit, the extension of Access to Work and the increased funding for mental health services. The latter, in particular, is very much in line with ERSA’s own recommendations, as lack of access to talking therapies has proved a significant barrier for supporting jobseekers with mental health conditions.
‘We are concerned however that Jobcentre Plus may not be able to cope with the demands placed on it by the Spending Review. Going forward it seems that all claimants will be required to attend the jobcentre weekly for the first three months of their claim, whilst there will be an increase in the daily signing regime for the very long term unemployed. We are also concerned that the new system will see some jobseekers left without specialist support for two years before referral to the Health and Work Programme – this is likely to exacerbate their barriers to work and put increased pressure on stretched Jobcentre Plus resource.’
ERSA’s briefing on the budget and spending review can be found here.