We want a prosperous, self-reliant Greater Manchester with high employment and a wealth of job and training opportunities.
But unemployment has been a problem in the region for three decades. A quarter of a million people claim out-of-work benefits here. It costs the country £1.4 billion per year plus the price of dealing with the social problems heightened by lack of work.
Working Well Pilot
In response, we are helping 5,000 people who have chronic employment problems. They have been jobless for at least two years and left their work programme without finding a job.
As part of our 'Working Well' programme, local services are working with expert agencies to deliver individual support, focusing on specific barriers to employment.
The programme combines help with physical and mental health and advice on drug and alcohol problems, skills, education and housing. Each unemployed person has their own keyworker (provided by The Big Life Group or Ingeus) to help them get the right support at the right time, keep them motivated and develop their confidence and independence. We only pay the support organisations fully when the person has been in work for at least a year.
On the Pilot we want 1,000 of the people on the programme to get a job in that time and 750 of them to be working for more than 12 months. We expect to see additional benefits like better health and reduced antisocial behaviour too.
Working Well Expansion
In November 2014, as part of a wider devolution agreement, we committed to expanding the current Working Well project from 5,000 to 50,000 people. We have started by reaching out to 15,000 more people.
We are not just providing the same support for more people but using the lessons we have learnt from the initial Working Well project to improve the way different services work together to meet the precise needs of every person on the programme. For example, there are new routes into the programme (such as recommendations from GPs).
The expansion’s keyworker provision is delivered by Ingeus and Manchester Growth Company (MGC) with bespoke Working Well Mental Health IAPT support being provided by GM West NHS Trust and skills for employment service by MGC.
We are already seeing positive early results as people are moving through the programme and finding jobs. Helping them sustain this work long-term will be a sure sign that we are taking the right steps to a brighter future.
As with Pilot, the expanded programme will offer of up to three years of support (including one year of in-work support). Our goal will be to get 20% of people into work, 15% of whom should be in long-term employment.
In moving towards supporting up to 50,000 clients, our ambition is to co-commission (alongside the Department of Work and Pensions) a work and health programme for Greater Manchester.
As we continue to expand the programmes we aim to provide further evidence that services designed and delivered locally are the best way to beat unemployment.