MPs add voice to concerns for employment support resource

14 November 2016

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have added their voice to growing concerns about the lack resource and capacity being made available to help more people with disabilities and health conditions in to employment.

Learning and Work Institute was one of 88 organisations that submitted evidence to the Committee’s inquiry on the Future of Jobcentre Plus. The inquiry’s final report, published on 9 November 2016, warned that much more needed to be done change culture and practice in jobcentres, having heard evidence that they were viewed negatively as enforcement agencies and that the role of Work Coaches will become increasingly complex and challenging.

Tony Wilson, Learning and Work’s Director of Policy and Research, who provided evidence as a witness to the inquiry, said:

“Enabling more disabled people and those with health conditions to gain good employment is one of the Government’s most challenging, but also most important, tasks. We are fully behind the Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap, but this must be properly resourced and the proposed investment for the new Work and Health Programme doesn’t come close to what is needed.

“There is much to welcome in the Committee’s report on the future of Jobcentre Plus. The Committee has recommended that Jobcentre Plus conducts digital skills assessments for claimants. This is particularly timely following the Government’s recent announcement that access to basic digital skills training will be free. We are pleased that the Committee have recognised that poor basic digital skills are a barrier to participation in work and society and we hope the Department for Work and Pensions takes on board the Committee’s recommendation.

“We strongly agree with the need for a clear five-year strategy for Jobcentre Plus and greater transparency in its funding, objectives and performance. And we are pleased that he Committee shares our view for the need for broader success measures within JCP – including progress towards work, skills gained, and customer satisfaction – and for a stronger focus on sharing ‘what works’.”

The Department for Work and Pensions is currently consulting on a Green Paper, ‘Improving Lives, The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper’.