Today, The Times featured an article on the publication of the Cochrane Review on employment support programmes and the health of lone parents. Commenting in response, Sam Windett, ERSA’s Head of Policy and Communications, said:

“Today’s article is an interesting study based on the North American welfare to work schemes, but we know the UK has different approaches, different geographies and specific challenges. In fact, the results for supporting lone parents into employment have been a particular success due to focused policies in the past few years; more than two-thirds (67.8 per cent) of single parents are now in employment, up from 43.8 per cent just over 20 years ago.

“Crucially, the employment support sector in the UK recognises that the next policy focus should not just be about getting people into work, but also about helping people to progress in work. This goes to the heart of the challenge in the UK, where improving productivity is all important. In-work progression and productivity go hand-in-hand and are important not just for people’s wellbeing, but also for their long term financial stability.

“The range of support offered in the UK is wide and varied, and ERSA’s members know that the right support is about helping people find the job that works for them. The review fails to drill down into this level of variation, for example enterprise support, which helps people to set up their own businesses, can work well for some people who require flexibility, such as someone with caring responsibilities.

“At ERSA we recognise that evidence of what works is crucial. We know that the right support can transform not just the individual’s life, but their families and communities too. That’s why we recently launched the sector Evidence Hub, bringing together over 400 pieces of academic and think tank research, as well as practical case studies. It is also why we are currently working with NPC and the DWP to develop an employment data lab. It is with these kinds of initiatives that we can ensure that we learn from what works to design effective and targeted support which is well placed to rise to the challenges the UK labour market faces.”