GosportNewsTop Stories

Jobcentres congratulated for Way to Work success

By a Special Correspondent

JOBCENTRE CIVIL SERVANTS, including those from Gosport, Fareham and Portsmouth sites, have been congratulated for their efforts as the Government announced that over half a million people have been fully supported back into employment; completing a remarkable and target-hitting success for the temporary ‘Way to Work’ campaign launched by ministers to fill an ever-increasing number of job vacancies after Covid-19.

The scheme was implemented from January and focused on unemployed Universal Claimants, attempting to match jobseekers with suitable jobs in the labour market. Entitlement rules for job-ready claimants were also changed that required them to broaden their search after one month to include suitable sectors new to them, a drastic cut from the previous 13 week period starting after becoming unemployed or starting initial claims.

Claimants have furthermore been given a single dedicated work coach to support them on their jobsearching journeys, having phone and face-to-face appointments on either a weekly or fortnightly basis. These have been undertaken to ensure that commitments are met and little momentum is lost, with group information sessions and regular interventions from specialist employment advisors adding to jobcentre support on offer.

Jobcentres have furthermore seen an increase in direct employer contact over recent times, which includes the use of Sector Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) and regular employment related fairs in all sites.  Alongside this are the benefits offered by provisions such as the Restart Scheme, National Careers Service and Job Entry Targeted Support; who help by offering support, contacts, courses or even limited funding.

For those with health conditions, disability or complex needs; commitments have been tailored and support offered to remove barriers to work whether possible. This has involved discussions with passionate disability employment advisors to help consider alternative solutions or via Work and Health Programme, which has furthermore offered an early access support scheme to Ukrainian refugees fleeing from Russian invasion.

When combined it means that the Government have reached their target of getting 500,000 into work and may have exceeded this figure once the data is further analysed, with many claimants not yet reporting a change in circumstance alongside a natural delay between any ‘job offer’ and its ‘start date’. Furthermore it is difficult to say how many people are in full time, part time, temporary, zero hours or contract work.

This will likely come to light when the full data is published, hopefully later this summer, with jobcentre teams across the area waiting to see how many people they got into work.  This includes staff in Gosport, the two sites in Fareham (Civic Offices / West Street) and Portsmouth (Arundel Street / Edinburgh Road); who have been congratulated for their efforts at local district and national level for their contributions to this success.

The outgoing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said in a recent message to Department of Work and Pensions staff: “In less than six months we’ve helped half a million people – who have so far been struggling to find employment – into work. This is a massive success, especially in the context of some of the global economic pressures we’ve been facing. Helping people find the security of a stable income, through a job they can take pride in, is one of the best ways for people to support their families during these challenging times.”

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey added her own thoughts by saying: “When people needed jobs and the economy needed workers, we stepped up our efforts to connect jobseekers with employers and have delivered on our target to get 500,000 more people into work in less than six months.”

Although the drive concluded on June 30 with unemployment now standing at an almost 50 year low with a total of 627,000 more people in payroll employment compared to pre-Covid pandemic levels; fundamental elements of the Way to Work campaign will remain in place as the Government switch its focus to keeping those people in work and ensuring progress in their careers, alongside a focus on two main claimant groups.

The first is the over-fifties as “midlife MOT’s” will be held between work coaches and claimants, helping to take stock of their skills and finances alongside other barriers to employment. Those with health conditions will further be supported with ministers committing to spend £1.3 billion to support people with disability and health challenges into work, building on the expansion of Disability Employment Advisers in the near future.

And over the next few weeks work coaches will also be key to supporting the ‘cost of living’ payments, which will be paid from today until the end of July. Contrast to belief claimants do not have to apply for the payment and this should be automatic if they are eligible for this one-off support split into two parts; one of £326 to be paid over the next two weeks and the remaining £324 due to be deposited in the early Autumn period.

Readers can read more information on the cost of living payments available to those on certain tax credits or state benefits by clicking this link, whilst details on jobcentre support and provisions can be found here. An easy access link to Universal Credit can also be found through the Government website link of: www.gov.uk.

PICTURED BY RUSSELL HART ALARMY (PXEK8K): Universal Credit headed stationery with pound coins.