Greater Manchester has launched the UK’s first locally controlled Work and Health Programme, which aims to support long term unemployed and disabled people into employment across the city-region.

First announced in Greater Manchester’s 2014 Devolution Agreement, the city-region is the first to have the commissioning and management of the Work and Health Programme locally controlled.  This means that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has devolved Greater Manchester’s proportion of the national Work and Health Programme budget.  Greater Manchester Leaders also successfully applied to the European Social Fund to match the Work and Health Programme budget, meaning that an additional 10,000 people will be supported on the programme.   Between 2018 and 2024, the £52 million programme will now provide support to more than 22,000 individuals across Greater Manchester.

The programme is designed around the participant, bringing together expertise and local knowledge to offer integrated health, skills and employment support that will support them on their journey to work. A key worker will accompany each participant in their journey through the programme and provide an expert single point of contact to help participants access the right support at the right time based on their different needs.

This local version of the Work and Health Programme is built on the principles of Greater Manchester’s Working Well programmes, which have run since 2014.  These back to work initiatives have been successful in supporting the long term unemployed, in particular those out of work due to poor health or disability, into sustainable employment.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is a place that always looks to support those who have fallen through the gaps in our society.  We are committed to making sure everyone in our city-region has the chance to get on in life and this programme is a key part of that commitment.  

“We’ve designed this programme locally to make sure that everyone who enters this programme in Greater Manchester will have their own specific needs taken in to account. The Work and Health Programme will ensure that people who are out of work receive individually tailored help from their own dedicated key worker to support them on their journey back in to work.”

“The devolution of the Work and Health programme is a major milestone in Greater Manchester’s journey and I’m confident that through it we’ll show that solutions created in Greater Manchester work best for Greater Manchester.”

Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work said:  “Everyone should be able to go as far as their talents can take them at work, and we are determined to provide extra tailored support to those who need it. The Work and Health Programme plays a key role in our ambitious plan to help one million more disabled people and people with health conditions in work over the next decade. Working together with our local partners in Greater Manchester we can help ensure everyone has the chance of reaching their full potential.”

Greater Manchester Combined Authority Lead for Skills, Employment and Apprenticeships, Councillor Sean Anstee said: “This is a landmark moment for our city region that will have a huge difference on the lives of those people who really want to get back in to work.  When we negotiated devolution of this Work and Health programme combined with our health devolution deal, it was done so we could do things like this – bring together support from across the public sector to help those who just want to get on in life and support their families.

“In Greater Manchester we’ve got a strong track record of creating local solutions to help people back in to work.  Through integrated, personalised support from local key workers, our Working Well programmes have helped people right across our city-region get the skills and confidence to enter the workplace.  We have also been able to incentives our providers to help people in to good jobs with an enhanced payment for keeping people in work and in roles that pay the Living Wage.”

“We cannot underestimate how supporting people in to employment improves self-esteem and reduces the number of children growing up in families where no parent works at the same time as promoting independence and contributing to our growing economy.”

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer for the GM Health and Social Care Partnership said “Greater Manchester recognises the strong relationship between health and employment:  being in good quality work supports good health, and a strong economy relies on a healthy, productive workforce.  

“We know that most of our residents with long-term health conditions and disabilities who are not in employment have skills and talents and want to make the journey back to work.  The Working and Health Programme is a central part of our system-wide effort to ensure that every working-age resident in Greater Manchester gets the right support to get, keep and progress in work.  This will make a major contribution to our goal of achieving the greatest and fastest improvement to the health, wealth and well-being of our 2.8million GM citizens.”

Both the national Work and Health Programme and the Working Well Programme are part of a new Personal Support Package for people with health conditions and disabilities, supporting the UK Government’s commitment to improve employment outcomes for disabled people, and the goal to see 1 million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years.

The programme is available on a voluntary basis to those with health conditions or disabilities and other specified groups. The programme has therefore been designed to most effectively support these individuals in their journey to sustainable employment through access to a range of support services that will help address specific barriers and challenges, and improve quality of life.

The programme will offer participants a maximum of 21 months of support, consisting of up to 15 months on programme support and up to a further 6 months of support once participants start a job.  Once in work, participants will have a dedicated in-work advisor who will help create a tailored work plan focusing on wage, work and personal progression.