ERSA webinars and resources to help the sector deliver and perform throughout COVID-19


PRESS RELEASE:  Face-to-face health assessments for benefits suspended amid coronavirus outbreak

Liaising with Commissioners
ERSA continues to talk to all commissioners raising the sector’s concerns and offering practical help to keep organisations delivering throughout COVID-19.
Resources to carry on delivering
ERSA is developing a resource bank that all organisations can use when people are self-isolating and/or delivery centres are not open.
ERSA is developing a series of webinars and on-line resources to assist the sector through the coming period, to enable all organisations continue delivering despite COVID-19. One aspect of this offer will be a bank of on-line resources held on the ERSA website.
If you use on-line courses, tools, and resources that can be used by others please tell ERSA about them by emailing 

Or can you write a blog for ERSA on your business continuity plans sharing good practice in how services will continue?
Or will you participate in, or deliver a webinar? This can be on a topic that will inform and upskill the sector, or on how you are delivering through COVID-19.
ERSA is also investigating what on-line resources we are able to source for our members. (Some costs may be involved).
COVID-19 Sector Q&As
Do you have questions or concerns that you want to raise? If so please email them to Please specify if you want to remain anonymous when they go on the Q&A log.
ERSA is continuing with Employability Day 2020 on Friday 26 June 2020
We recognise that delivery centres may not be open. ERSA will provide organisations with a toolkit in the coming weeks that can be used to demonstrate what the employability sector is delivering through the COVID-19 period. To reflect these challenging times, this year’s theme will be Business As Usual and our hashtags are #EmpDay20 and  #BusinessAsUsual. We know that many aspects of delivery may be unusual, but the sector will carry on to support those most in need of services and support. 

Employability Day 2020 will be a showcase for the sector to demonstrate that we are:

  • Innovative
  • Creative
  • Supportive
  • Collaborative

and that we continue to deliver, support and service customers through challenging times. Later in the year we will run Employability Day Part 2 – when our doors are open again. Email us at
Please look out for further announcements re Building Partnerships and the ERSA Employability Awards.

Government response: Work and Pensions Select Committee report on the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system

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The government has issued its response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system. The government response agreed or partly agreed with 18 of the recommendations and rejected five.

Responses of particular interest to ERSA members:

  • While government agreed that regular reviews of initial face to face assessments with JCP were beneficial it did not comment specifically on the recommendation that relevant data be passed to WP providers should the jobseeker be referred on.
  • Government agreed that they were developing a new jobseeker segmentation tool but highlighted that the results of pilots would determine ‘whether it has wider application, including for contracted programmes such as the Work Programme’.
  • On improving performance measurements for JCP under Universal Credit, government commented that plans existed to pilot employment-related performance measures. This includes testing the applicability of employment measures to different groups of claimants; for instance, speed of movement into work vs duration in work vs earnings progression whilst in work.
  • Government partly agreed to look at improving support from JCP to ESA customers and those with disabilities by outlining the range of recommendations outlined in the recent disability and health employment strategy and highlighting that government are exploring how best to support and deliver a specialist adviser role, including a national network of specialist advisers.
  • In response to the Committee’s recommendation to further investigate links between off benefits targets and sanctioning, government responded that it will be publishing further information on sanctions through the forthcoming Work Programme Evaluation and will consider in due course if further inquiries would be appropriate.
  • Government outlined activates to engage JCP with employers and for integrating further the use of Universal Jobmatch.
  • DWP rejected the recommendation to make a formal audit of the JCP estate, to ensure effective use of resource.

Commenting on the government response to the Work and Pensions report into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA said:

“ ERSA welcomes Government’s commitment to supporting jobseekers with the greatest barriers to finding work, and will continue to assist DWP on getting future provision right, especially as Universal Credit is rolled out. To make sure the individual needs of jobseekers are met,  ERSA supports the development of an accurate assessment and segmentation tool for all jobseekers support needs. 

“However there are still big challenges to  overcome. JCP and employment support programmes must work more effectively together, putting the jobseekers interests at the heart of what is being delivered. Sharing customer data and working towards the same outcome is the right and only way forward.”

Response from ERSA to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into Jobcentre Plus

This paper has been developed following consultation with ERSA’s membership and focuses on those areas of the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into Jobcentre Plus that are of most relevance to the welfare to work industry.

The key points in ERSA’s response are as follows:

  • ERSA believes the effectiveness of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) should be measured by sustained job outcomes rather than off-benefit flows.
  • ERSA would support Jobcentre Plus adopting a more sophisticated assessment tool to identify more accurately the level and type of barriers to employment experienced by jobseekers.
  • ERSA recommends that DWP should provide greater clarity for JCP advisers as to when a jobseeker should be referred to the Work Programme vis-à-vis Work Choice.
  • ERSA supports the fast-tracking of those who are at risk of becoming long term unemployed to intensive provision rather than waiting for referral to be triggered after a specified length of time.
  • ERSA believes more needs to be done to improve the amount and quality of information about participants and their needs at referrals. 
  • ERSA recommends DWP should conduct a review of sanctioning activity with a view to ensuring that the processes are clearly understood by participants and consistently and swiftly applied.

Response from ERSA to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into Jobcentre Plus

ERSA response to NAO report on jobcentres

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A new report by the National Audit Office has claimed that job centres have coped well in the face of the economic downturn, but has recommended that the Department for Work and Pensions must improve how it tracks and understands Jobcentre Plus performance. Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, agreed that Jobcentre Plus had met key targets, but called for standardised comparison between jobcentres and other programmes such as the Work Programme.

Responding to the report Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), Kirsty McHugh, commented:

“The Employment Related Services Association welcomes the NAO report and the call from the chair of the Public Accounts Committee for a standardised comparison between the performance of job centres and outsourced employment programmes. 

“As the voice of the welfare to work sector we are particularly keen to see greater alignment of targets for all services supporting people into employment including providers of the Work Programme, Work Choice and Jobcentres.  At present, Jobcentre Plus is incentivised to move people off benefit, but, unlike the Work Programme has no targets to get people into sustained employment.  We believe measuring the performance of Jobcentre Plus in moving people into sustainable work would be a great step forward. The NAO’s recognition of this is therefore most welcome.’