ERSA welcomes the devolution of employment support in Scotland, but warns incentives must be in place to drive performance

ERSA welcomes The Smith Commission’s recommendation to devolve responsibility for employment support programmes to Scotland. However, we await to see measures put in place to incentivise a continued drive in performance. ERSA recommended devolving the employment related benefits budget as well, to allow the new commissioner to reap the rewards of increased employment and the resulting reduced benefits spend. We also believe that control of Jobcentre Plus should be devolved to Scotland as it is such a significant part of the employment support landscape.

ERSA is pleased to see the Commission recommend introducing a mechanism for improved inter-governmental working. We believe this is necessary if Scotland is to develop a more integrated and holistic employment support model that we know so many jobseekers require, and yet continually proves so difficult to achieve at a central government level.

ERSA will continue to work with the Scottish Government and our members to ensure this transition to devolution proves most beneficial, especially for the jobseeker.

ERSA Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh commented:

“ERSA welcomes the report recommendations, particularly the decision to devolve responsibility for employment support programmes, but continues to believe that, in line with our submission to the Smith Commission, powers should also be devolved in relation to in and out of work benefits and JCP. 

“We will continue to work with our members to support the delivery of employment related services to jobseekers in Scotland and believe that this is a valuable opportunity to further join up employment support with skills and health provision to better meet the needs of jobseekers in Scotland.”

ERSA welcomes labour market statistics

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ERSA welcomes the publication today of the latest labour market statistics showing that unemployment has seen the largest annual fall since records began, over 40 years ago.

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, said:

“Today’s welcome labour market statistics again show the impact of employment support on people’s lives.  The Work Programme alone has supported over 150,000 young people into jobs, clearly contributing to the record fall in youth unemployment.’

ERSA welcomes publication of Oakley review

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ERSA has today (22 July) welcomed the publication by the government of the Oakley review of the sanctioning regime on jobseekers.

ERSA, the sector body for the employment support sector, contributed to the independent review process earlier this year and welcomes the government’s acceptance of all the Oakley recommendations.  It is now calling for rapid implementation of the changes throughout the Jobcentre Plus network in order to improve the overall regime. 

In particular, ERSA welcomes the recommendations within the report on improving communications to claimants so they know why they have been sanctioned and their responsibilities going forward, plus the need to clarify the roles of employment support providers vis-à-vis Jobcentre Plus.

Speaking about the report, ERSA chief executive, said:

‘Matt Oakley’s report shines a very welcome spotlight on the Jobseekers Allowance sanctioning regime. It’s vital that all claimants know their responsibilities in relation to seeking employment and that the sanctioning system is fair and transparent. It’s clear that more can be done to improve the process and providers will therefore support government and Jobcentre Plus in its implementation of changes.’