Tuesday, August 1, 2017

News: Funding secured to address long-term unemployment

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A multi-million pound initiative of early intervention is set to help prevent people from long-term unemployment in the Sheffield city region (SCR) after Government funding was confirmed.

The SCR Early Intervention Pilot seeks to test a city region solution for the long established and well evidenced issue that long term unemployment is prevalent amongst those individuals with multiple and complex barriers.

Up to £5m of investment from the Work and Health Unit Innovation Fund is set to come into the city region across the next five years. Up to £28m has been committed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for six initiatives across the country.

3,000 people in the SCR are expected to be supported although the Combined Authority was hoping to match the Government funding with European Structural and Investment Funds to create a pilot with £11m of funding to deliver support to over 5,000 SCR residents.

The delivery of the service is built around Employment Advisors and the pilot is set to test whether early referral to support for those with complex needs reduces incidence of long term unemployment and if a co-ordinated local approach reduces welfare benefits and other service dependence.

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David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: "We have record numbers of people in work which is great news, but there are still people missing out on the available opportunities because of barriers to employment.

"These pilots are yet another step forward in our efforts to help people of all backgrounds enjoy the benefits of work, and will boost the wide ranging support we currently offer through local experts like Jobcentre Plus."

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Borough Council and Chair of the Sheffield City Region Skills, Employment and Education Board, said: "I am very pleased to see this pilot, which will help underpin the inclusive approach of the Sheffield City Region. We are in the vanguard of this work. As we see the numbers of our high value jobs growing we are ensuring that no one in our communities misses out on this growth."

Nigel Brewster, Vice Chair of the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership and Co-Chair of Skills, Employment and Education board, added: "This is a visionary exercise. Employers want the best people, and they are very keen to see help for those who face hurdles getting into work. This scheme will benefit the whole region."

Last year, the SCR was selected, alongside the West Midlands, to design a pioneering trial from the Government's Work and Health Innovation Fund focused on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions, the two conditions most commonly reported by those out of work.

ONS figures show that in June 2017, 5,175 claimants of Job Seeker's Allowance in the SCR had been claiming for over a year, with over 3,000 of them signing on for over two years. The number of long term unemployed (claiming for over a year) had been as high as 13,000 in 2013.

The SCR scheme is designed to help people who are in the first year of claiming a benefit; who have multiple barriers; likely to be 19-21 care leavers; people with learning difficulties; and people with multiple needs including mental health, physical health, homelessness/unstable accommodation, substance abuse, domestic violence, ex-offenders.

Where Job Centres may not have the resources to help people with more complex issues, now services are being brought together to tackle multiple issues in a coordinated way for example, services that deal with debt, housing, care, skills, employer engagement and support, advice services, money management, lifestyle and motivational coaching.

SCR LEP website

Images: Groundwork South Yorkshire


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