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Work Programme not working for all Londoners

  • By Jim Ranger

Older adults and people with disabilities in London are less likely to get the support they need from the Work Programme, a government initiative that aims to help people get back into work.

London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, has analysed data from the Department for Work and Pensions to discover whether the job prospects of people in the capital who have completed the Work Programme are affected by their age, sex, ethnicity or disability.

It is calling for London boroughs to be involved in the important task of designing future welfare-to-work programmes for local communities, ensuring that they are more effective at overcoming the challenges people face when looking for a job.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, London Council’s spokesperson on equalities, said: "It is clear from our research that certain groups continue to experience poor outcomes on the Work Programme, in particular older adults and people living with a disability.

"Significant improvement is needed if we are going to offer these groups, and others, a real prospect of employment. London local government continues to demonstrate its ability to address complex needs through targeted, local help. In order to design services that better serve communities at the local level there is a strong case for devolving this function to the boroughs."

Innovative and proactive employment projects funded by the London Councils European Social Fund (ESF) programme and London boroughs, and delivered by boroughs and third sector organisations, have already helped people prepare for the world of work by tailoring support to individual circumstances. 

Between 2007 and 2013, 32,843 people attended 135 ESF projects across London, which helped 46 per cent of participants with mental health problems start work. Since 2011 the work programme has helped 14 per cent of people with disabilities on the programme find employment, but 19 per cent of people with disabilities who joined ESF projects in London were able to find a job.

London Councils’ equalities analysis, All’s Fair in the Work Programme? is available online.