London Work and Health Programme

  • By Jenny Gulliford

As part of the London Work and Health Programme, launching in Spring 2018, London’s four sub-regions will receive funding worth up to £135 million over five years to support 50-55,000 long term unemployed, disabled people and people with health conditions to seek employment. This briefing summarises how the programme will deliver a more coordinated approach between employment support and wider public services.


The disability employment rate for London stands at 48.3 per cent, compared to 77.4 per cent among non-disabled people1. The government has made a manifesto commitment to halve the disability employment gap, a considerable challenge given that this gap has stagnated for over a decade.

The Work and Health Programme is part of the government’s plan to begin to address this, and the devolution of the Work and Health Programme to London was confirmed in the Autumn Statement 2016 after a period of sustained lobbying by London government.
A memorandum of understanding between national and London government was signed on 31 January 2017.

Key headlines

Approximately £135 million will be devolved to London over the five years of the programme. Of this, £70 million is funding devolved from the DWP, which is being match-funded by ESF, bringing the total value of the programme to £135 million.
The scheme will provide employment support to 50-55,000 people. The London Work and Health Programme in London will provide support that is distinct and additional to that available through Jobcentre Plus. London government believes devolution of the Work and Health Programme in the capital can deliver a more coordinated approach between employment support and wider public services, including local authorities.

It is intended to support the following groups enter and sustain work:

  • Disabled people and people with long term health conditions
  • People who are long term unemployed (over one year claiming an out of work benefit)
  • Early entrant groups, including:

    - an ex-offender (someone who has completed a custodial sentence or a community sentence), or offender (someone who is serving a community sentence)
    - a carer claiming JSA
    - an ex-carer - a homeless person
    - an ex-HM Armed Forces personnel
    - an HM Armed Forces reservist
    - a partner of current or former Armed Forces personnel
    - a person for whom a drug/alcohol dependency (including a history of) presents a significant barrier to employment
    - a care leaver
    - refugees
    - young people in gangs

Referrals to the programme will come through JobCentre Plus via the Work Coach. Local authorities and other organisations, such as GPs, will be able to refer individuals to the Work Coach for consideration for the programme.
The programme is scheduled to begin in March 2018. Customers will be referred to the programme up until 2022, when DWP will have the option of extending the programme for a further two years. Into-work support will be available for a further 15 months after the last referral.

In order to ensure that the Work and Health Programme reflects the unique challenges and opportunities across London, and to enable more effective integration with local services, London’s Work and Health programme will operate on a sub-regional basis. The London Work and Health Programmes will share some characteristics as the national programme, such as contracting provision and operating on a partially payment by results basis. However, sub-regions have had the ability to align their programme to local priorities and regional labour markets and encourage diverse and locally responsive supply chains.

Sub-regional groups of boroughs will act as the four Contract Package Areas (CPAs) and are running a separate but coordinated procurement process.

Each sub-region has nominated a single local authority to be the lead accountable body in the procurement and delivery phase. How the provider will be expected to work with the boroughs in the sub-region during the implementation phase will vary depending on each sub-region’s specification.
The lead boroughs are:

  • Central London Forward (Central): City of London
  • Local London (East): Redbridge
  • South London Partnership (South): Croydon
  • West London Alliance (West): Ealing

The procurement process is now live, and the successful bids will be announced in autumn 2017. The deadline for SQ submission is 31 March 2017. Potential prime contractors can access the relevant documents on the City of London Corporation’s procurement portal, Capital eSourcing.


Making sure that the Work and Health Programme in London is able to effectively support the people who need it will be a priority for London’s sub-regional groups over the coming year. London is operating to a tight procurement and implementation timescale for the programme. Meeting this challenge will require a coordinated effort and resource across the sub-regional groups, as well as at a borough and pan-London level.

While there are challenges in delivering integrated and effective employment support services, there are significant opportunities. Locally based commissioning brings real value through greater integration with wider public services. It broadens the type of response available to different parts of the public sector to tackle complex and entrenched issues through coordinated action.

Closer working between services lets us more fully understand the lives of the people we work with and tailor support to meet their particular needs. Devolution of the Work and Health programme will be an important part of implementing these principles – enabling London boroughs to work more flexibly with local employment support providers and coordinate activity around the individual. This builds on the work already taking place in the boroughs bringing services together and supporting disabled people to enter and sustain work, such as Working Capital in Central London and the Mental Health and Employment Trailblazer in West London.

Future challenges include making sure that local integration is effective, considering how to align devolved skills funding to the programme in the future and working with providers to explore how to align health services and funding to the Work and Health programme.

London government is continuing to discuss with government further proposals for public service reform of employment support services within the capital, including greater integration between local employment and JCP services, preventing people falling out of employment because of ill-health and lobbying for devolved replacement funding for ESF in London.


Jenny Gulliford, Principal Policy Officer