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Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Nurturing relationships: The test of a shared society

Monday, January 16th, 2017

How many contacts do you have stored on your phone? The head of an adolescent mental health unit once told me that his patients typically had 6 to 10 contacts listed and most of those people were likely to be professional helpers like himself. Social isolation could be both a cause and a consequence of his young patient’s ill health. It was certainly a common characteristic.

I was thinking about this when I read about the Age Concern research published last week revealing that “Half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend each day alone, with no interaction with others, and nearly half a million more commonly do not see or speak to anyone for five or six days a week”.

And whilst we are on the subject of alarming numbers an Action for Children survey of 2,000 parents in 2015 found that almost a quarter said they ‘always or often’ felt lonely.

Social isolation is not a problem for the young or for the old. It is a galloping crisis for us all

Last week we wondered on this blog whether a “shared society” is empty rhetoric or the PM’s genuine intention. If the phrase has any serious substance our collective ability to reconnect with one another, or at least to reverse the trends, must surely be the test.

The consequences may vary – loneliness, ill health, long term unemployment etc. – but the roots are the same. School performance, economic opportunities, physical and mental health, and ultimately life expectancy are all substantially influenced by the strength and depth of our social connections. Very few of us glide effortlessly through life without ever experiencing any difficulty. Our capacity for coping and bouncing back depends in part on our readiness, our acquired skills and strengths, and in part on the support around us, the networks and relationships which sustain and recharge us.

We often make the case for early action but nowhere is it more self-evidently essential. As the Early Action Task Force has noted befriending schemes are important but not sufficient. They are to loneliness what food banks are to poverty – an essential response to a crisis but not a long term solution. The early action response to isolation would involve a commitment to sustained community building throughout the life course – essentially what much of Community Links work on the ground has been all about for almost 40 years.

As we explored on this blog a few weeks ago technology has, in recent years, swept into every corner of our lives often, in the process, sweeping out friendships and relationships. We think people change lives, not transactions. Valuing and developing this element of deep value in our services here, and working to embed it more broadly across the public domain is another long standing priority for Community Links and now more urgent than ever.

The most useful work experience placements or internships are invariably shared across “warm networks” and as many as 8 out of 10 new jobs go to people known to the employer. The old cliché about it not being “what you know but who you know” is still a fair comment on the state of social mobility and, more broadly, on the distribution of opportunity in communities like ours. Building networks, and nurturing the confidence to negotiate them, is the focus of Community Links programmes like Future Links which won a Charity Times Award last October. It isn’t rocket science but it is important and it does work.

Incidental Connections showed that there is no single right way to build communities and to nurture effective and meaningful relationships but doing it better in 2017 may well be the single highest priority for organisations like ours, Jobcentres, GPs, police officers, schools, and indeed any agency in the public domain. Whether Theresa May is, or is not, seriously committed to building a shared society, we should be.

Partnership success that builds brighter futures for young people

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Last night Community Links and our corporate partners Bank of New York Mellon won the Corporate Community Local Involvement Charity Times Award for our Future Links employability programme.

Since 2009 this fantastic project has enabled hundreds of young people furthest from the labour market to develop the necessary skills to progress into work or further education, with 85% of our graduates moving into a positive destination.

Our CEO, Arvinda Gohil, who attended the awards, said:

“I am delighted at this result, many congratulations and well done to everyone who was involved and continues to be involved in this great partnership. My particular thanks and congratulations to the young people who have participated in this programme and made it such a success over the last 8 years.”        

Key to the programme’s success is the longstanding partnership and support of our corporate sponsor BNY Mellon. Long-term partnerships with companies are invaluable to organisations like Community Links, enabling us to plan ahead, build our sustainability and innovate. This national recognition of the strong local partnership we’ve developed provides an opportunity to reflect on what’s key to a successful relationship between a charity and a company.

Future Links supports young people aged between 16-19 years old who live in Newham and who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). The training is focused on building the confidence, resilience, networks and skills of our young people and supporting them through the job application process. Alongside being the sole funder of Future Links, BNY Mellon plays an important role in the programme delivery. Participants visit their offices twice during each 10 week course – receiving support from employees with their CVs and interview skills and attending a graduation celebration at the end.

Future Links success would not be possible without the support of BNY Mellon and our skilled and committed programme staff, who dedicate so much time, energy and enthusiasm to the young people they work with. At the end of the day, Future Links’ success is a reflection on the hundreds of young people who have worked so hard over the years, and who have built brighter futures for themselves, their families and their communities.

Making apprenticeships work for all Londoners

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

The London Assembly Economy Committee is today hearing evidence from Community Links on the lack of diversity in apprenticeships in London.

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘apprenticeship’? Most people would associate it with youth, opportunity and work. The reality is that if you are a young Londoner, from an ethnic minority or living in a deprived area, you are less and less likely to reap the rewards of the Government’s expanding apprenticeship scheme.

10 years ago under 19 year-olds made up over half of apprenticeship starts in London. Today that figure stands at just 22%. Those from ethnic minority backgrounds fare little better, being overrepresented in low level apprenticeships in sectors with a history of low pay.

Earlier this year we submitted evidence to the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy inquiry into apprenticeships, and called on the Government to address the growing underrepresentation of young people (especially those living in deprived areas). Today the London Assembly Economy Committee wants to know how the Mayor can help increase participation from under-represented groups, in good quality and higher level apprenticeships.

At Community Links we believe the Mayor and Government need to do more to support and prepare young people for apprenticeships, whilst ensuring employers are incentivised to offer the flexibility and understanding to take them on. We prepare thousands of young people in East London for employment each year and know they have the appetite and drive to become successful apprentices or employees, but often lack the social and communication skills. Our Future Links and Talent Match programmes deliver pre-apprenticeship and pre-employment training to young people furthest from the labour market. This training is focused on building individuals confidence, resilience, networks and skills and supporting them through the job application process.

The harsh reality is that the Government recently cut funding rates for the most deprived 16-18 apprentices by up to 50%, effectively disincentivising employers from taking on young people from deprived areas such as Newham. This move will only precipitate the steady decline in the numbers of young Londoner’s entering apprenticeships.

It’s high time we gave young people, ethnic minorities and under-represented groups a fair deal. This starts with ensuring they have the best possible access to high quality pre-apprenticeship training and support. Likewise employers need to be properly incentivised to recruit young people onto apprenticeships and to better understand their needs. Overall the Mayor and the Government should set hard and fast targets to dramatically increase the proportion of under 19-year-old and ethnic minority apprenticeship starts by 2020.

Our Talent Match Youth Mentor is a Vlogstar finalist

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Earlier this year, we hosted Media Trust for an exciting vlogging workshop for 18-25 year olds across our programmes. After months of workshops and presentations with over 1000 young people from 75 youth organisations, Media Trust’s panel selected our Talent Match Senior Mentor, Fateha Begum as a finalist for the Vlogstar Challenge.  

The Vlogstar Challenge, is a campaign run by Media Trust and the Jack Petchey Foundation, in partnership with YouTube and the Evening Standard. As part of the challenge, young people from London and Essex are trained in creating, shooting and editing video blogs using their smartphones. The aim of the challenge is to inspire and motivate young people to have their voices heard highlighting their positive contributions to society.

After participating in the workshop, four young people from our Talent Match programme submitted their best vlogs into the competition. Fateha used her YouTube space to vlog about youth and women empowerment, sharing her experiences as a youth worker. She was selected as one of 15 regional winners.

Fateha has since spent time at YouTube’s state of the art production space and will be attending a glitzy event at BAFTA tonight for the Vlogstar Challenge final where the winner will be announced.

Fateha chairs the youth board for our partnership employability programme with London Youth, and says: “Since being a part of the Vlogstar Challenge it has really pushed me to encourage other young people to get involved and to use YouTube as a platform to get our voices heard.”

“Vlogging is also a great enterprise idea. You don’t need the flashy equipment or to be qualified in film production, you can take control of your careers through these spaces”.

The Vlogstar champion will be awarded £2,000 for their organisation, £500 worth of equipment and 121 mentoring from YouTube’s experts.

We are wishing Fateha the best of luck for tonight. You can visit her YouTube channel here.

We need more progression and less conditionality for people on in-work benefits

Friday, June 10th, 2016

While the Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC) congratulate the government on piloting a “revolutionary” in-work support service for Universal Credit (UC) claimants, we look at some of the challenges in developing this untested welfare reform and consider what role conditionality should play.

Reading the WPSC’s recent report on in-work progression you can understand why they erred on the positive side. The in-work service being piloted by the DWP has the potential to break the cycle of people getting stuck in low pay, low prospects employment, whilst taking a small but significant step towards improving poor labour productivity in the UK. However, questions about the capacity of Job Centre Plus (JCP) to deliver a national programme of support, the additional skills required of Work Coaches, and the introduction of a conditionality regime for people already in-work leave us with more questions than answers.

Too many claimants, not enough coaches

The DWP intend for in-work UC claimants to receive support from the same JCP Work Coach throughout their claim, enabling them to build a relationship and receive continuity of support. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of what we describe as deep value relationships, however, there is a gap between their intentions and the resources required to make them a reality. The committee’s report touches upon this issue, highlighting that a full JCP-led in-work service could apply to around one million people, compared to the 15,000 claimants currently involved in the pilot. This comes at a time when the DWP is expected to reduce its day-to-day spending by 19% between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

Alongside these budgetary pressures, Work Coaches will also need to dramatically expand their skills to address structural barriers to progressing in work. This requires them to have a far more detailed understanding of local labour markets and engage with employers much more. In response to these budgetary and skills challenges, the DWP said they would “think very carefully about how we differentiate the service”, and suggested providing online support in lieu of face-to-face interviews. They also said Work Coaches would receive “substantial” additional face-to-face training.

More progression and less conditionality

A cynic would say that in-work progression enables the Government to introduce an in-work conditionality regime and that the budgetary and skills gaps are clear indicators of this. As we highlighted in a previous blog on this subject, the introduction of in-work conditionality and imposition of sanctions on working claimants risks making people’s lives and employment more precarious. Just this week, a Government-backed employment project in Oxford found that docking welfare payments is not an incentive to work. In our submission to the WPSC inquiry we recommended that an in-work service should improve employment outcomes not enforce compliance. So as the DWP continues its pilots, we hope they place a greater emphasis on delivering a high quality in-work support service, and refrain from applying conditionality to people who have shown they do not lack the motivation to work.

Let’s make sure young people are given a fair deal on apprenticeships

Friday, March 18th, 2016

As the Government plans to increase the number of apprentices to three million by 2020, it’s high time we addressed the growing underrepresentation of young people

It’s National Apprenticeship Week 2016 and the official theme is “an apprenticeship can take you anywhere.” However, the reality for many under 19-year-olds and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is that apprenticeships are taking them nowhere. In fact, as a proportion of all starters the number of under 19-year-olds has almost halved since 2009, going from 42% to 25% of all apprenticeships. Yet at the same time under 19-year-olds account for the majority (56 per cent) of apprenticeship applications, revealing it’s not for want of trying or enthusiasm that young people are less likely to secure a place. So why are apprenticeships letting so many of our young people down?

The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Employers would say they face difficulties in recruiting younger apprentices due to weak employability skills, whilst young people would say that it’s an uneven playing field, where employers are cherry picking older and more experienced applicants, many of whom are existing employees. The latter argument is supported by research from the Institute for Public Policy Research which found that two-thirds of apprentices (67 per cent) at level 2 or level 3 were already employed by their company, rather than new recruits.

Rightly or wrongly we know there’s a growing preference by employers for older and more experienced apprentices. This presents the Government with a particular challenge; how can they dramatically increase the number of apprenticeships and improve standard’s whilst ensuring more young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t get left even further behind? This challenge could be exacerbated by the introduction of the apprenticeships levy next year which gives employers greater autonomy over how they deliver their apprenticeship schemes.

At Community Links we believe Government need to do more to support and prepare young people for apprenticeships, whilst ensuring employers are incentivised to offer the flexibility and understanding to take them on. We prepare thousands of young people in East London for employment each year and know they have the appetite and drive to become successful apprentices or employees, but often lack the social and communication skills. Our Future Links and Talent Match programmes deliver pre-apprenticeship and pre-employment training to young people furthest from the labour market. This training is focused on building the confidence, resilience, networks and skills of our most disadvantaged young people and supporting them through the job application process.

So as we near the end of National Apprenticeships Week and the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy commences its inquiry into apprenticeships, it’s high time we gave young people a fair deal. This starts with ensuring disadvantaged young people have the best possible access to high quality pre-apprenticeship training and support. Likewise employers need to be properly incentivised to recruit young people onto apprenticeships and to better understand their needs. Overall the Government should set a hard and fast target to dramatically increase the proportion of under 19-year-old apprenticeship starts by 2020. Failure to do so means the rot will most likely continue, limiting the life opportunities of potentially millions of our youngest and brightest.

Talent Match London Employment Project: A Volunteer’s Journey of change

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

This guest blog post, from Fateha Begum chair of Community Links Youth Board,
details her journey onto the Talent Match London programme


Fateha Begum with members of the Youth board and Community Links Staff
Fateha Begum pictured with members of the Youth Board and Community Links staff

In today’s world, it’s rare not to be busy.  There are so many things to do, that we can take time for granted. I had it all planned out that after college I would go university and graduate, then get into a career. Funnily life took an unexpected twist, causing me to leave university and all my plans to go flying everywhere.

This is where Community Links came in and brought light to the end of a dark tunnel. After a horrible year of health problems, I finally recovered but did not know what to do anymore. I felt lost and like a failure. Only 19 years old, I stepped through the doors of Community Links and into a project called Bridges into Work, where I had my own Personal Advisor who amazingly helped me gain confidence and see life in a new perspective;  I felt doors opening again.

I wanted to explore options whilst still recovering and the voluntary position offered was a fantastic way to get back into the world of work and balance my personal life.

At first it was daunting and nerve-wracking. I was always in education and now to experience a working environment was alien to me. I initially kept quiet and would observe everyone but soon I was part of a team.

I started off with administration work, observing the personal advisors, designing posters and writing feedback for events – and now months into volunteering I am the leader of a youth board for a program called Talent Match London. It has been an interesting journey. The range of opportunities only boosted my self-development and gave me the confidence to try new things.

Almost a year on now, I have got a job with an opportunity I got through volunteering. Words cannot do justice to the support, encouragement and guidance I have got from the team at Community Links Youth Hub.  As a teenager, volunteering was never appealing but now I appreciate and value the opportunities, because not only does one gain invaluable experience but to know that a person has the ability to make on impact in the world, no matter how small they may think that impact may be …. it all gives back to the greater community-  it’s great! – Fateha at 19

The story continues …

The journey from being a volunteer who listens to everyone else, to being a volunteer with the power to steer a program is amazing.

Talent Match London funded by the Big Lottery, was launched a year ago by a group of young people to tackle youth unemployment. It is a program that was designed by young people for 18-24 years who faced the biggest barriers and had long term unemployment. Through its “journey of change” and personalised support offered, the aim is to get young people into “careers and not just jobs”.

Community Links is one of the partners that help London Youth deliver the Talent Match London program in Newham and Barking & Dagenham. Talent Match London’s unique touch is being youth-led at the heart of the programme; myself and other young people have formed EastSideLinks Youth Board with the support of the Talent Advisors.

We organise a meeting once a month where the board comes together to discuss and evaluate progress whilst making suggestions and coming up with new ideas. Plus the refreshments are a bonus, alongside the numerous games that have been introduced – it is always a good laugh.

Throughout the month, everyone has the chance to volunteer and attend various opportunities to gain knowledge as well as make a difference. It’s flexible to suit everyone’s life. The best part so far for me, has to be planning events, going out to meet new people and having our voices heard. The youth board is only now turning on the ignition for the exciting and successful year ahead.

Join us, as the year has only begun – Fateha at 21

Unemployment statistics: digging deeper

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Digging in the Dark

New labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the unemployment rate is down to 6%, with 592,000 fewer people out of work than at this time last year.

Surely this is call for celebration; Employment Minister Esther McVey certainly welcomed the news, arguing that “record numbers of people in work means more people with the security of a regular wage who are better able to support themselves and their families”. Indeed, from the Department of Work and Pension’s perspective, it is great news that “the number of people claiming the main unemployment benefit – Jobseeker’s Allowance [JSA] – has… been falling every month for the last 2 years and is now over a half a million lower than May 2010”.

However, these seemingly simple messages hide some uncomfortable truths.

Firstly, whilst the employment rate (73%) is back to pre-recession levels, of those jobs created since the recession started only 1 in 40 are full-time work. Part-time work can offer the flexibility to deal with other life commitments, and so is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the number of people in part-time work who want to work full-time (1.3m) is almost twice as many as when the recession started in 2008. Furthermore, as our forthcoming report (to be published next month) on the impact of welfare reform shows, being in work is not necessarily a route out of poverty – particularly when work is based on zero-hour contracts and low pay. This can also leave people feeling insecure and uncertain about their future.

Secondly, research from Oxford University shows that at least 500,000 JSA claimants have disappeared from official unemployment statistics. This is important as it not only shows why we should not take official statistics at face value, but raises further questions on what the impact has been on those 500,000 people who appear not to be in work or receiving benefits. As our research into the cumulative impact of welfare reform has shown, sanctions can prevent people from having enough money to buy food, pay for their heating and, in some cases, even actively prevent them from finding work.

A fall in unemployment is a welcome thing, but only when it means that people are moving into fairly paid and sustainable work. This is exactly why we should never take such messages at face value, and always dig deeper into official statistics.

Deep Value Assessment: How ongoing, participatory employability assessments could improve outcomes for jobseekers

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Today we publish our new report, Deep Value Assessment, which sets out how assessment of jobseekers’ needs and abilities could be improved.

The report comes as new employment figures show that unemployment is at just 6%, its lowest level since before the financial crash. Youth unemployment has also fallen substantially. But the same employment figures show that most of this decrease in unemployment is due to people moving into economic inactivity, and not into work. These statistics highlight how as the unemployment rate falls, it is increasingly difficult to get the remaining unemployed people – many of whom face the largest barriers to the labour market – into work. This echoes the message from recent Work Programme statistics which show the programme is still failing to deliver for the people with the most entrenched barriers to work.

There are many reasons why employment support services are struggling to deliver for this group, but problems with assessing the type of support they need are definitely an important one. Good assessment is crucial to any public service, and an essential part of tackling the problem of long-term unemployment is ensuring that employment support services – both Jobcentre Plus and contracted providers – have a solid understanding of jobseekers’ needs and abilities.

Many recent proposals call for a more efficient ‘segmentation tool’ as a way to improve support for people facing the most barriers to employment. Such a tool would identify early those jobseekers that were going to be the most challenging to get into work, and split them off into more intensive support. If a day-one segmentation tool could be made to work it would no doubt address some of the immediate problems in the employment support sector, such as creaming and parking. We originally undertook our research – which involved qualitative fieldwork with 40 jobseekers and several other stakeholders – by attempting to understand more about how such a tool might work.

A new approach to employability assessments

Ultimately, however, our research suggests that such a ‘segmentation’ tool may not be the best way forward in the longer term. Instead, a different approach is needed:

  • Firstly, assessment should be an ongoing process. To get an accurate, in-depth picture of a jobseeker’s situation requires continually updating the assessment. It’s essential that advisors have the time and resources to build Deep Value relationships, use them to continually assess needs and abilities, and tailor support accordingly.
  • Secondly, assessment should be more participatory, emphasising jobseekers’ own perspectives. Jobseekers understand their own needs and abilities better than anyone. They should be enabled to actively contribute to their assessment and thus shape their support offer. A more participatory assessment would also encourage employment support to include a consideration of jobseekers’ strengths and abilities, instead of just addressing their barriers and needs.

Now is an excellent time for the employment support sector to think about how assessment could be done differently. Discussions are underway for how ‘Work Programme 2’ should be commissioned, but with a few years left on existing contracts, there is time to start piloting different ways of doing assessment. These will need to be built into its design from the start, as this will have implications for how contracts are made and how providers are expected to work together.

The roll-out of Universal Credit is going to change both who receives employment support and how people interact with these services. Claimants will no longer be on a straightforward linear path from ‘signing on’ as unemployed to eventually moving into work. Instead claimants may have different periods of un- or under-employment within one claim, interspersed by periods of being in work. Ongoing and participatory ways of understanding their changing needs and strengths will be crucial, and reduce inefficiencies and waste by allowing employment support to be tailored to claimants’ increasingly varying situations. More work need to be don to understand how best ongoing and participatory assessment can fit within the new system.

Our report highlights four areas where the principles of a Deep Value approach to assessment can be put into practice now. The processes and tools of assessment need to be less ‘tick-box’ and more collaborative and engaging – and it needs to be possible to regularly update them. Partnerships need to be strengthened to ensure that different providers are able to share information about jobseekers’ strengths, abilities and barriers. Frontline staff need additional training to be able to undertake ongoing, participatory assessment. Employment coaches and advisors need to be enabled to build Deep Value relationships between jobseekers and their advisors.

Deep Value assessment done right would benefit all jobseekers, but in particular it would help those who the current employment support system is failing. Deep Value Assessment is about making sure that we can get, and act on, a proper understanding of jobseekers’ needs and strengths, and ultimately provide quality employment support for all..

The Work Programme – making it work for those who need it most.

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Job Centre plusYesterday, the government published the most recent tranche of statistics on their flagship welfare-to-work service, the Work Programme. This is the second time that the Work Programme has hit the news in a week, coming just a few days after think-tank IPPR’s report made national coverage – “Work Programme failing those most in need and should be broken up’” were the headlines.

These statistics show that the work programme continues to do fairly well for mainstream jobseekers – as well as previous programmes, like Flexible New Deal, did, and at a lower cost. The Employment-Related Services Association (ERSA) estimates that over half a million job seekers have entered employment via the Work Programme since its inception, and 300,000 of these have remained in work for six months (or three months for the hardest to help).

But the statistics also show that the Work Programme is continuing to struggle to deliver for those with the biggest barriers to work. Despite increases in success rates for new claimants of the main disability benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), they are still only half as likely as jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants to get a job. The succes rate for other ESA claimants (who have been on benefits for a longer time) is even worse. ERSA estimates that only 25,000 jobseekers on ESA have found a job through the Programme, much lower than for JSA claimants. Figure 1, taken from IPPR’s paper, shows the stark difference in how well the Work Programme works for mainstream jobseekers compared to those with larger barriers.

Figure 1: Proportions of Work programme participants and outcomes by payment group.

At Community Links we know from first-hand experience how this differing success rate can pan-out on the ground. We’re proud that the type of employment support we deliver – grounded in communities, using our knowledge of local labour markets, and focusing on supporting the harder-to-help – is the right model for those with the largest barriers to work. But some aspects of the Work Programme’s structure make it very difficult for us to deliver intensive support to those who need it most. Today we’re publishing our newest policy briefing on the Work Programme, which sets out how we think it should be changed.

All of us – Community Links, IPPR, the official statistics, and many others – agree that there’s real a difference in how well the programme supports different jobseekers. It works well for the ‘mainstream’ but struggles to support those with largest barriers. Our briefing sets out some key things that could be changed to address this problem:

  • Make sure payments to providers match need. The current system of assessing people based primarily on benefit status leads to incentives for providers to focus on those with the smallest barriers. Needs-based, up-front holistic assessment to define the amount of support people need would help to address this.
  • Provide tailored services for those with the greatest barriers to work. Some people on the Work Programme – including many on the ESA benefit – are a long way from the labour market and face complex problems. Paying providers only when people move into work simply doesn’t work for this group. Support for people with the largest barriers should be funded on a cohort-based model, or provision should be made with the focus on achieving intermediate steps and ‘soft outcomes’.
  • Improve accuracy and performance reporting. The lack of transparency in the Work Programme, with providers being forbidden from sharing their performance data, prevents us from learning what work for others. Additionally poor referral forecasts from the DWP make it hard for us to plan our work for the hardest to help – for example to hire the right number of staff with the right specialisms. DWP should improve its referral forecasts, and should provide contingency funds to providers when those forecasts are incorrect.
  • Strengthen co-working across the supply chain. We know that local collaboration is important to ensure that people, especially those with the largest barriers to work, can be helped. DWP should introduce local partnership forums to encourage better collaboration at a local level.

It was good to see the IPPR report making many similar recommendations. Like us, they recommend that future employment support programmes should “adopt a more sophisticated framework to triage claimants into appropriate support”. Like us, they recognise that “the current ‘work first’ philosophy does not work for everyone” and that future employment support must “explicitly recognise the differing support needs of diverse claimants”. Putting these changes into practice would really help to close the gap and make sure the Work Programme really works for everyone.

Finally, like us the IPPR report argues that more local provision could be essential for people with the largest barriers. IPPR’s suggestion for how to make this happen – by locally commissioning programmes for ESA and former Incapacity Benefit claimants – is more radical than ours of “introducing local partnership forums” which support collaboration, but ultimately both work towards the same aim.

There’s real agreement now from across the welfare-to-work sector on some of the key things that need to change about the Work Programme. It’s essential that the government implements these changes, to make sure the Work Programme works for everyone.

Download our Policy Briefing on the Work Programme