Ahead of this week’s Budget, the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the representative body for the employment support sector, is calling on government to ensure its new package of funds to support people with mental health conditions extends to employment support services. 

The call accompanies the release today (17 March) of new figures showing that 680,000 long term unemployed jobseekers have started a job on the Work Programme since its inception to end December 2014.  This is an increase of over 40,000 on the previous three months and shows the programme has been instrumental in raising Britain’s employment levels to 73% – the joint highest since records began. 

Of those starting a job whilst on the programme, around 170,000 are under 25, reinforcing the picture of young people being the best performing group on the programme.

The figures also show that performance for those on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), though improving, remains behind that for those on Jobseekers’ Allowance.  ERSA believes the Work Programme’s success could be extended to greater number of jobseekers on ESA, including those with mental health conditions, with the right resourcing in place.

The ERSA figures are released ahead of the announcement of official government performance statistics on the Work Programme due on 19 March.  These figures will show the number of people on the programme who have obtained a long term job – normally six months in sustained employment.

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, said:

“Today’s figures show that the Work Programme is contributing significantly to the record high levels of employment. However, we know more people with mental health conditions could gain work if more funding was available.’

The expected announcement in the budget of new funding for mental health is great news for both those suffering from mental health conditions and their families.  However, given that official figures show that at least 10% of Work Programme customers suffer from a mental health condition, we need to make sure this funding extends to employment support services.’


Press enquiries should be directed to Anna Robin 07912 569 449 /anna.robin@ersa.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the sector body for those delivering or with an interest in employment support services.  ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities.  It has nearly 190 members, including all prime contractors of the Work Programme. The majority of its members are not for profit.
2. ERSA’s Latest Work Programme performance report can be found here. Topline figures from the release include:
• 680,000 individual jobseekers have now entered employment via the Work Programme from its inception in June 2011 to end December 2014
• Over 169,000 young people have now found at least one job on the Work Programme.
• Overall, 36,367 jobseekers on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have now gained work
3. ERSA is able to set up interviews with jobseekers who have found work and providers of employment support services. Case studies are available on ERSA’s website. Interviews with ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh are available on request.
4. Latest DWP Work Programme statistics can be found here. The next tranche will be released on Thursday March 18.