ERSA welcomes the latest set of labour market statistics for October to December 2016, with unemployment down by over 218,000 on the year and with the rate continuing at 4.8% – the lowest for over a decade. The statistics also show that the number of women in work has risen to a record rate of 70%, and the number of disabled people in work has increased by 594,000 over the past three years.

Sam Windett, ERSA’s Head of Policy and Communications, said

“Today’s statistics cap a record breaking year for employment levels, with 31.84 million people in work. These latest figures are a testament to the scale and efforts of employment support providers working at the front line, helping to change lives, communities and businesses across the UK. Between specialist programmes for jobseekers, such as Work Programme and Work Choice, alongside mainstream JCP services, the system has worked together to create this success. The Work Programme alone, for example, has helped over 500,000 people into sustained employment.

“It is therefore a mistake for the government to reduce its focus on effective labour activation policies. Both the Work Programme and Work Choice are closing their doors to referrals this year, with a potentially more challenging labour market ahead and less investment in specialist services. The government must think again about its short term decisions – once capacity is lost, it is will be hard to rebuild the system to reach record levels again.”