Today (Thursday 30 June) MPs and leading experts in the field of Welfare to Work come together in the House of Commons to discuss research findings on the impact of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) within the Work Programme in the South West. The research was commissioned by Prospects, the employment, education, skills and care company, and carried out by the University of Warwick, Institute for Employment Research (IER).
The research focussed on the work undertaken by Prospects in the south west of England. Prospects are now in their sixth year of delivering the Work Programme in the south west as a prime contractor and in London as a subcontractor. In the south west the approach Prospects takes is to treat each claimant individually providing personalised back to work activities that focus on the needs of the individual rather than the end result. This has enabled Prospects to exceed targets and achieve exceptional results for the ESA group of claimants.
Prospects provides one to one adviser support alongside a series of structured activities. Prospects refuses to place people into work simply to gain quick wins. A critical success factor in the ESA initiative is finding supportive employers and organisations that will support claimants to return to work at a suitable pace and remain in work breaking the yo-yo cycle of unemployment.
ESA claimants face a number of barriers into work. The research makes four key recommendations:
1. Stakeholders should understand that there is no quick fix to working with ESA customers; it takes time, trust and commitment.
2. While the ‘payment by results’ approach is now widely understood there is a need to move towards acknowledging the gradual positive steps taken by ESA customers.
3. There is a need to focus on job and labour market opportunities with sensitive employers who are able to understand and help overcome barriers to work faced by ESA customers.
4. Local partners need to ensure they are working closely together and sharing information so that the right level of service is delivered to the right customer at the right time.
Nick Bell, Prospects Chief Executive, commented: “We provide a structured yet supportive environment to help people back into work. We believe that the benefits of this approach are felt by the individuals we support and society as a whole because health care, social care and local authority costs are reduced too. As an employee owned business and Leader in Diversity we strive to treat everyone with respect, part of this is ensuring we support people into work which is sustainable and meaningful to them. We are delighted that this latest research shows how successful our approach is for the thousands of people we support each year.”
Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, of the University of Warwick, Institute for Employment Research, said:
“The report findings capture the voices of adults moving through the Welfare to Work system - many of whom are experiencing hard times due to personal circumstance or unforeseen events. There was a call for stability in government programmes and for more employers to step up and give disadvantaged adults a chance to get a foothold into work.”
Download the report Hard Times here
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Notes to Editor
The Prospects Group provides tailored education, employment, training and care products and services for people at all stages of life. Each year Prospects inspires more than 500,000 people to develop their potential and transform their lives. More than 1,400 professional and skilled colleagues provide practical support to the local communities they are based in across the UK and internationally. Prospects is one of the largest employee owned companies in the UK. It is also a Leader in Diversity and ranked in the top 100 index by the National Centre for Diversity.
Alona de Havilland
07790 803882 or 01823 362804
Senior Communications Manager
020 8315 1023 or 07901 922211