Today, the National Audit Office (NAO) published its report on DWP’s employment support for disabled people, which ERSA members fed into. 

ERSA has warmly welcomed the DWP’s commitment to support more disabled people into work. It recognises the Department’s focus on developing its evidence base through the ‘test and learn’ approach and its efforts to improve how it engages with disabled people at JCP.

To achieve the Government’s ambitions, people with disabilities and health conditions must have access to personalised employment support that meets their specific needs. The report highlights the services available at Jobcentre Plus, but also the competing pressures on Work Coaches with increasing caseloads. It is clear the Government needs to engage the considerable expertise in the employment support sector if it is to meet its policy objectives.

Specialist organisations are often best placed to offer bespoke support to help people overcome their specific barriers to work. These organisations are essential for delivering the scale of change needed, but this requires a broader vision matched by appropriate funding.

Commenting on the report, ERSA’s Chief Executive, Elizabeth Taylor, said:

‘I warmly welcome the NAO’s report on DWP’s employment support for disabled people. It should be acknowledged, however, that to meet the Government’s ambition, the DWP needs to engage the breadth of expertise outside of Jobcentre Plus. Unless it involves the spectrum of organisations that deliver specialist support to disabled people, it will struggle to meet its policy objectives. In reality, funding for contracted out employment support has decreased significantly in recent years and the sector faces additional uncertainty with the potential loss of European funding after Brexit.