ERSA’s 2022 Outstanding Contribution to the Sector Winner Liz Sewell reports back on giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Being in parliament on the day that that President Zelensky speaks puts a lot of things into perspective.  But it was good to be at the DWP select committee to be part of the employability sector representatives who were giving evidence on employability programmes and the Plan for Jobs

The first session looked at performance of current contracts. ERSA’ CEO, Elizabeth Taylor, was passionate and eloquent about the work that has been done and could be lost with the fact that ESF is ending and UKSPF won’t be available for a year. She spoke about the need for programmes that were available to all and how the sector was well placed to support the economically inactive as they had the specialist knowledge and were located throughout the country. Richard Clifton from Shaw Trust made a compelling case for local specialist provision and return to work program on a national basis. He also spoke about the need to provide childcare and flexible working to ensure that people were able to take up the jobs available. Rhodri Morgan from Reed spoke about the way national programmes are performing better and better and advocated for the retention of smaller caseloads. He was also able to show that employability organisations can deliver to people who have complex health and social care needs. Fiona Monaghan from Ingeus made the case for a flexible approach to client need and the importance of looking at what works.

At the second session we were three smaller providers and we looked at how to engage participants, the need for specialist services and the way that local and specialist organisations have a particular role in the sector. It was wonderful to hear from Rosie from Miss Macaroon speak about their inspiring social enterprise that supports young people with really complex needs move into work and hear her perspective on how support can be provided. Graham Perry from Groundwork was able to give real insight into the way local organisations build a network of support around individuals and how in the community organisations like food banks are vital in signposting. I spoke about the need for longer programmes, specialist support and the fact that at point were government was looking to reach out to people further from the labour market the programmes that did just that were ending.

What will happen now is that the committee will consider our points as part of their report, which will then go to the government for a response.

You can watch the whole thing here

I hope that the committee and the sector feel we made the main points.