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Employability and Skills: Taking forward our National Conversation

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Annex B The UK Employment Support System

1 Employment Support is the combination of factors, processes and resources which enable people to progress towards or get into employment, to stay in employment and to move on in the workplace.

2 The New Deal programmes for unemployed people were introduced following the UK general election in 1997. Two mandatory New Deals were introduced for those aged 18-24 who have been unemployed for 6 months, and those aged 25 plus and 18 months unemployed. In addition, a range of voluntary New Deals were introduced including New Deal for Lone Parents, New Deal for Disabled People and New Deal 50 Plus. These programmes featured more intensive levels of job-seeking support, including elements of contracted provision.

3 Currently the two mandatory New Deals are in the process of being replaced by a single Flexible New Deal programme normally applicable to all Jobseekers 12 months unemployed. This will form part of a revised Jobseekers regime and is based on a new DWP commissioning strategy focused on the awarding of larger, longer contracts to a much smaller selection of Prime Contractors. Contracts will often cover several Jobcentre Plus districts and be paid on the basis of job outcomes. There will be opportunities for private, public and third sector organisations to contribute to sub contracting arrangements.

4 For people with persistent health conditions, the main DWP funded programme is Pathways to Work. A main strand of this is condition management, whereby health professionals help individuals to develop strategies to enable them to work effectively. In addition, three Work Path programmes (Access to Work, Work Preparation and WORKSTEP) 11 are on offer to people who are disabled or have a health condition.

5 Progress2work is the service for people who are recovering from misusing drugs. Individuals do not have to be claiming benefit to access this service, which can help both with getting into training or work and with sorting out problems with housing and debt.

6 The recent Gregg Review proposed increasing levels of conditionality 12 for people on inactive benefits, particularly lone parents with younger children and the bulk of people on Employment and Support Allowance. The proposed powers in the UK Welfare Reform Bill 13 underpin Professor Gregg's recommendation that in the long-term parents with younger children should generally be part of a 'Progression to Work' group, for whom an immediate return to work is not appropriate, but is a genuine possibility with time, encouragement and support.

7 Scottish employability policy is set within the framework of Workforce Plus 14.