Want 2 Work, UK
The ‘Want 2 Work’ initiative is one of a number of pilot projects aimed at assisting older people in receipt of incapacity benefit. Advisers offer advice to people in relation to the full range of employment benefits and provide support to enable beneficiaries to access these benefits. Delivery of this initiative takes place through outreach provisions in local community outlets in Wales.
Aims of the initiative
Assisting unemployed people in finding work and encouraging economically inactive people to enter the labour market are major issues in the UK. At present, large numbers of people who want to work are in receipt of incapacity benefit.
The ‘Want 2 Work’ project is a joint initiative supported by the Welsh Assembly Government and Jobcentre Plus to help economically inactive people find work in Wales. The initiative is funded through a mix of Objectives 1 and 3 of the European Social Fund totalling GBP 11 million (about €15.2 million as at 7 December 2007). It has been delivered in three pilot areas around Wales for the past three years since September 2004.
The primary aim of the project is to help people claiming social benefits – largely but not exclusively incapacity benefit – to find work. In February 2005, access to the project was extended to those who had been claiming incapacity benefit at any time in the two years prior to the programme’s start-up date.
This initiative is primarily concerned with the delivery of services. It does not focus on organisational change or policy development.
The employment rate in Wales is lower than in the UK as a whole, despite recent increases. This lower employment rate is not due to higher unemployment in Wales as this is no longer the case but to a relatively high rate of economic inactivity, namely in relation to people who are not working and are not seeking work. This excess of inactive people in Wales is present across all categories of people of working age, regardless of age and sex, but is most marked in men aged between 50 and 64 years who are self-reported long-term sick.
Want 2 Work is disseminated through outreach provisions in local community outlets in the local authority areas of Cardiff (Ely and Caerau), Merthyr Tydfil (Gurnos, Merthyr Vale and Aberfan) and Neath Port Talbot (Sandfields East/West and Aberavon). Services are provided from Tuesday to Friday each week. The focus of the services will be shifted to other districts within these local authority areas during the lifetime of the pilot projects in an effort to engage with as many potential participants as possible.
Advisers offer advice to participants on the full range of employment benefits and provide support to enable beneficiaries to access these benefits. Additional support measures are also provided, such as a Return to Work Bursary and an Expert Patient Programme which is a new approach to enable individuals with a pre-existing medical condition to cope in the workplace.
The project maintains close links with employers and health professionals, and referrals are often made directly by individuals’ doctors.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for running the programme. The initiative will eventually cater for 4,000 participants a year. No information is available on the gender or age profile of the participants.
In the three pilot areas, some 1,395 people have participated in the project and 281 people have managed to find employment.
The New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) has made a significant contribution to helping people into employment in Wales. Since its launch in 1998, it is estimated that the NDPP has enabled over 10,000 people to find employment.
Three aspects of the Want 2 Work project are particularly innovative:
- the way in which activities are targeted in local community areas;
- the additional health support for those who are unemployed due to a disability or long-term illness;
- the availability of discretionary funding for people returning to work.
- service is a linked one in that it is an inclusive mainstream service that provides flexible options, including disability-specific supports, within a mainstream context.
Want 2 Work offers the following options:
- onward referral to vocational training;
- job preparation;
- job matching and placement;
- post-placement support and job coaching;
- access to financial subsidies to support employment.
Qualifications and standards
The staff of the counselling service have a generic qualification with either experience in the field or some additional qualification in counselling people with disabilities.
The counselling service is subject to national quality standards and it has been accredited. However, it does not operate according to an internally recognised quality control system.
Want 2 Work does not apply any of the four principles of case management.
Relationship to other programmes
This initiative is part of a larger programme or framework. Helping unemployed people into work and encouraging those who are economically inactive to enter the labour market are significant factors in addressing issues such as social disadvantage, inappropriate skills, health conditions limiting the capacity for work, low self-esteem and financial disincentives. These issues can act as a barrier preventing people from entering employment. Specific help to overcome such obstacles is available through the NDDP and other ‘Welfare to Work’ programmes. Responsibility for these programmes remains with the UK government under non-devolved employment policy. These programmes are delivered in Wales by the DWP through its agent, Jobcentre Plus.
In recent years, the focus of the UK government’s Welfare to Work agenda has shifted to providing more help to those people who are economically inactive and claiming a range of benefits for such inactivity. To extend support to people receiving incapacity benefit (IB) with health problems limiting their work capacity, the UK government introduced the ‘Pathways to work: IB reforms’ pilot project in October 2003. The package of measures is intended to help re-focus new IB claimants on the prospects of returning to work through a combination of work-focused interviews and a condition management programme to provide help and support for individuals with a health condition which limits their work capacity. In addition, the programme offers a new financial incentive for those who find employment, including a tax-free Return to Work Credit (RTWC) of GBP 40 (€55) a week for a period of 52 weeks for those whose earnings are less than GBP 15,000 (€20,826) a year.
Research and evaluation
For further information, see the Jobcentre Plus website: http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Partners/RegionalBusinessCommunity/Wales/Dev_013019.xml.html