London’s devolved work and health employment support programme begins

by Dave Hill

London government today took charge of a programme for helping Londoners who have difficulty finding jobs in the latest devolution of central government powers to the capital.

The Department for Work and Pensions has handed down funds for its work and health programme, which is aimed at helping disabled people, those suffering from long term ill-health and others who have been without employment for two or more years.

The new arrangement also allows London boroughs, working as four sub-regional areas, to have more freedom to decide how the programme works and how the contractors they work with will provide the necessary support, in line with local knowledge and needs.

The transfer of the work and health budget and controls was promised in chancellor Philip Hammond’s 2016 Autumn Statement subject to certain conditions being met. Its delivery has been welcomed by Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills Jules Pipe and by Haringey Council leader Claire Kober in her capacity as chair of London Councils, the body that represents all the capital’s local authorities.

Pipe said that the London work and health programme, as it is named, is “another example of cities and their local government being best placed to identify and meet the specific needs of their residents”. Kober said it will “realise the potential of Londoners who want to work but are not in employment”.

Up to £135m in funding is being devolved, which includes match funding emanating from the European Social Fund. Referrals to the programme will be made through Job Centre Plus.

The four sub-regions are:

  • West London Alliance, comprising Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow working with contractor The Shaw Trust.
  • Central London Forward, comprising Camden, City of London, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth, Westminster, Hackney, Haringey and Lewisham. Contractor: Ingeus.
  • Local London: Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Enfield, Greenwich, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Bromley. Contractor: Maximus.
  • South London Partnership: Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton. Contractor: Reed in Partnership.

Other early entrants into the programme in addition to those disabled, long-term unwell and unemployed for two or more years, include a carer claiming job seeker’s allowance, an ex-offender, an ex-armed forces members, a person with a history of drug dependency, refugees, gang members, victims of domestic violence and a homeless person.

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