The Help to Work scheme – a new intensive support scheme to get the long-term unemployed into work – launched last week.

A key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan is to deliver the highest levels of employment, making sure that everyone who can work is given the support and opportunity to do so.  The Help to Work Scheme will give Job Centre staff a new range of options to support the hardest to help people and provide more support to the long-term unemployed.

It will involve three options:

  • Attending the Jobcentre every day. For three months and is designed for claimants who are close to the labour market and would benefit from regular support with looking for jobs, including those who need to build motivation, momentum and engagement. Help will be available with travel costs for those who need it.
  • Community Work Placements. Claimants who lack work experience – and where this is felt to be holding them back from finding a job – may be asked to undertake a placement, which will also benefit their local community. This would include a range of roles in the voluntary and community sector that will give the claimant skills and experience within the work place. This could include gardening projects, running community cafes or even restoring historical sites and war memorials. The placements will be for up to six months for 30 hours a week and will be backed up by at least four hours of supported job searching each week to help turn the experience into full time employment.
  • Intensive Jobcentre support. For jobseekers with multiple or complex barriers to work the Jobcentre Plus advisors will spend more time with the claimant looking at how to tailor a back to work support, with more flexibility to send people on intensive training schemes, ad hoc funding to overcome issues blocking a return to work such as initial travel costs or suitable clothes for a job interview, and referrals to work experience opportunities with local organisations.

Over 70 organisations from the private, voluntary, charity, SME and local authority sectors are already contracted to provide placements: they recognise the positive benefits the process will have on their organisations, the local community and the jobseeker.

This is another important step in turning around the legacy left by Labour where a million and a half people spent the last decade out of work. I don’t doubt the programme will be criticised but there is no kindness or justice in abandoning people to worklessness.

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