ERSA welcomes the Work and Pensions Select Committee report published today, which recognises the opportunities that extending employment support to in-work claimants of Universal Credit (UC) could bring, but notes the investment in skills and personalised support required to deliver such a service.
ERSA believes that the government’s moves to promote in-work progression, particularly at the lower end of the jobs market, is likely to pay dividends for individuals, employers and the overall economy.
However, in implementing this policy, ERSA cautions that the government must ensure it provides fit-for-purpose support that helps individuals and employers, using evidence from employment support specialists already delivering in-work support within existing services.
ERSA welcomes the Committee’s finding that the role of sanctions within an in-work context is complex and so far untested. However, ERSA would go further by proposing a voluntary approach, or limiting conditionality to first engagement with the service, with an exemption for any individual already working at capacity perhaps due to a health condition, disability or caring responsibility.
ERSA welcomes the report’s support for ERSA’s key recommendations:
• The DWP should more actively test delivery by the voluntary, community and private sectors. The Committee recommends that the DWP test more flexible forms of contact in addition to face-to-face interviews and draw more widely on voluntary, community and private sector-led support.
• In-work progression support could be made available on a voluntary basis to all employees who might benefit. The Committee recommends that there is a clear case, in time, for extending it further up the earnings scale.
• There must be greater transparency around the data available on the pilots. The Committee recommends that the DWP regularly publish basic information about the nature and outcomes of its pilot.
Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, ERSA:
“ERSA believes that there are huge opportunities in supporting people on low wages to progress in work – not just for the DWP, but more widely, helping to boost productivity across the UK.
“However, it is crucial that this service, never before attempted at scale, is delivered in a supportive way with the individual at the centre. This requires frontline staff with local knowledge, specialist expertise and a track record of delivering successful support which meets both the needs of individuals and the business community.”
Press enquiries should be directed to Sam Windett 0203 757 9416 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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 220 members, over two thirds of which are not for profit.
2. The Work and Pensions Select Committee release is available here and the report is available online at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmworpen/549/54902.htm
3. ERSA is able to set up interviews with jobseekers who have found work and providers of employment support services. Case studies of in-work support are available on ERSA’s website. Interviews with ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh are available on request.