A programme which will drive forward the devolution agenda in London has taken another step forward, as the search begins for providers to deliver the Work and Health programme.
Over 100 providers gathered at the Drum in Wembley today (Thursday), to hear more about the scheme, which will help disabled people and the long-term unemployed into work. This follows another market engagement event at City Hall last week which also attracted over 100 organisations.
Whitehall officially passed the budget for the programme to four sub-regions in London, as well as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, at the end of January.
The funding – which amounts to just over £70 million over five years – will be used by councils to help the long-term unemployed and those with health conditions or disabilities enter the world of work in the capital. Additional funding of around £65 million will also be available through the European Social Fund, taking the total to £135 million.
London Councils – along with the Mayor of London – has long been calling for greater borough involvement in designing future work programmes for local communities. It provides the opportunity to align employment services with other locally run services such as housing, health, debt advice, childcare in order to reduce an individual’s barriers to work.
The agreement between the Department for Work and Pensions and the London boroughs now paves the way for the boroughs to work together in four sub-regions to create initiatives tailored to communities’ needs. Londoners can expect the new programmes to begin from spring 2018.
Potential providers will submit proposals in March this year and London boroughs will announce successful contractors towards the end of 2017.
Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils, said: “This is a significant moment in London’s call for further devolution and we are pleased to be finally getting the wheels in motion.
“I’m delighted that so many providers attended these events and that there’s a real interest in working in new and different ways with boroughs on helping residents with complex needs back into the workplace.”
Councillor Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council and Chairman of the South London Partnership, said: “The devolved funding provides the South London Partnership with a fantastic opportunity to join forces and get some of the most vulnerable people in our communities back into the world of work.
“With our residents’ needs in mind, we will be able to work together to ensure the new programme provides tailored, local support to south London residents improving their chances of securing sustainable employment.”
Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council (lead borough for the west London sub-region), said: “We are uniquely placed to understand the jobs market in West London, and the issues facing our residents. This presents an excellent opportunity for us to ensure that support is provided where it is most needed to help people to address their health concerns, and gain the right skills and employment to improve their lives.”
Councillor Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council (lead borough for the east London sub-region) said: “We very much welcome this funding which will give us a real opportunity to help people who are furthest from the labour market to progress and get into work. The funding and devolved powers will allow us to shape local employment services, and really tailor them to our communities’ needs.”
Cllr Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council (Chair of the central London sub-region) said: “Building on successes in helping our residents find work, our programme will bring together the best parts of employment support with the critical local services, so we can help more people to improve their job prospects, health and wellbeing.”
Notes to Editors:
For the purposes of the Work and Health Programme, the sub-regions are as follows:
• West London– Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow
• Central London– Camden, City of London, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth, Westminster, Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham
• East London– Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Enfield, Greenwich, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Bromley
• South London– Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton