The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade association for the welfare to work industry, has said that the Government’s new Work Programme has the potential to help transform the lives of millions of people who are out of work.

The Work Programme, which is being rolled out from this month, marks a radical shift in the provision of welfare to work services with old programmes being wound up and replaced by one single back to work programme. Providers will be paid by results once they have moved jobseekers into sustainable employment and there will be financial incentives to concentrate on those furthest from the labour market. It is anticipated that 2.5 million people will be referred to the Work Programme over the next 5 years.

Commenting on the launch, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA said:

“A real advantage of the Work Programme is that providers are being given the flexibility to use their specialist knowledge to provide jobseekers with support which is based on their needs rather than on what benefit they are on. The expertise which providers possess will help individuals overcome the barriers which prevent them from securing sustainable work.

The Work Programme will be delivered in 18 geographical regions with 2 or 3 prime contractors competing in each. These prime contractors will then manage a network of sub-contractors in order to deliver individually tailored support to jobseekers. Commenting on the system of delivery, Kirsty McHugh said:

“Diverse supply chains which include partnerships between businesses, charities and local authorities are going to be crucial to the successful delivery of the Work Programme. Providers are also well placed to understand the needs of employers who also need help and support.”

Kirsty McHugh continued:

“Given the scale of the Work Programme, there will no doubt be challenges that need to be overcome. However, providers are ready and confident in delivering a service which can transform peoples’ lives as well as reduce cost to the taxpayer.”