Another significant step along the road to devolution took place today, with Whitehall officially passing the budget for the Work and Health Programme to London boroughs.
The funding – which amounts to up to £80 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 £60 million will also be available through the European Social Fund, taking the total to £140 million.
London Councils – along with the Mayor of London – has long been calling for greater 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 local authorities now paves the way for councils 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.
Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils, said: “This is a significant moment in London’s call for further devolution and I hope it indicates a direction of travel towards additional powers being transferred locally in the not-too-distant future.
“Boroughs – who can already demonstrate significant success in this area – are delighted to be able to get on with the important job of helping residents with complex needs back into the workplace.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am delighted that funding and responsibility for the new Work and Health Programme is to be devolved to London Government.
"This is a great example of how we can put party politics aside and work closely with the national Government in the best interests of all Londoners.
“As part of this, I will be doubling the size of the London programme from my share of the European Social Fund.
“Delivering this programme at a local level will result in greater alignment of employment support with other local services. This will lead to better outcomes for Londoners, with those who need support receiving it at the right time.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Government and the boroughs so more power can be devolved to the capital so that we can protect jobs, wealth and prosperity in London."
Comments from the sub-regions
Councillor Tony Newman, Leader of Croydon Council (lead borough for south London sub-region), said: “I am delighted the funding has been devolved, giving Croydon the opportunity to partner with other south London boroughs to create a programme that will meet our residents’ needs.
“Sourcing and delivering this programme at a local level will allow us to align the personalised support with the other services we offer to help our residents into work, thus improving their chances of successfully securing long-term 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.”
Cllr Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council (Chair of the central London sub-region) said: “The Government’s announcement today to devolve Work and Health Programme funding to London is an excellent first step to devolving power and funding closer to our residents and the vital services they use.
“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
- Companies wishing to attend a market engagement event should go to www.capitalesourcing.com and register their attendance under the ‘View Opportunities’ tab. This event is only open to employment providers.
- If you are a Provider and are interested in delivering the Work and Health Programme in London, please register at www.capitalesourcing.com under ‘View Opportunities’ to find out more.