ERSA responding to Mind report: nearly 640,000 people find employment through the Work Programme, but jobseekers need better access to health provision

New ERSA figures, released today, 11 December, show that over 639,000 individual jobseekers have now entered employment via the Work Programme from its inception in June 2011 to end September 2014. These figures continue the positive trend, highlighted by the National Audit Office amongst others, which shows the programme is performing at least as well as predecessor programmes and at lower cost. 

The figures also coincide with a report from campaign charity, Mind, on the experience of jobseekers with mental health conditions on the Work Programme.  ERSA disputes Mind’s claim that ‘performance is poor’ – targets are being met, including for those on Employment and Support Allowance. However, it does agree that jobseekers must be better able to access mental health provision whilst on the Work Programme.

Evidence to ERSA from providers of the Work Programme indicates that a disproportionate percentage of long term unemployed jobseekers experience mental health conditions.  Providers are investing in a range of support for jobseekers, but there is an unacceptable waiting list in some parts of the country for important services such as CBT.  

ERSA also believes that mental health conditions are not detected early enough in many cases.  It therefore recommends that the government should make more effort to identify mental health support needs from day one of a jobseeker claim.

Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, said:

“Too many long term unemployed jobseekers struggle with poor mental health, often exacerbated by the fact of being out of work itself. Employment support providers already invest in a range of services, including counselling, but the demand outstrips the supply of services available. 

We need to find a way to integrate health and employment services so that those with mental health conditions can access support from a variety of places to help them stabilise their conditions and, when appropriate, move into work.”


Press enquiries should be directed to Anna Robin 07912 569 449 /

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.
2. ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities.  It has around 180 members including all prime contractors of the Work Programme and a high number of its subcontractors. 
3. ERSA’s policy recommendations on future employment provision for the long term unemployed can be found in its report ‘Evolution not Revolution’, here.