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Working Well

Working Well

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. At the beginning of 2020, quarter of a million people in Greater Manchester claimed out-of-work benefits, with the number steadily increasing as a detrimental effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response Working Well, a family of services that embody Greater Manchester’s employment and health offer, have been commissioned to support people experiencing or at risk of long-term unemployment. ‘Working Well’ refers to the relationship of both employment and health and is grounded in the principles laid out in the Work, Health and Disability policy paper ‘Improving Lives’. In short ‘good work is good for your health’.

It started in 2014 with a small long-term unemployed pilot to challenge the Department for Work and Pensions’ Work Programme and create a case for devolution. It has since developed into a system of devolved and test and learn provision that spans a whole spectrum of need.

Working Well programmes have supported over 70,000 Greater Manchester residents to date, unpicking a wide range of barriers to work. Of these, over 25,000 people have found employment (July 2023), many of whom were not likely to move into work without specialist intervention.

At the heart of Working Well are the following key principles: keyworker model, 1-2-1 personalised and sequenced support, and integration with the wider GM ecosystem.

Working Well: Pilot

Established in 2014, the Working Well: Pilot supported 5,000 people who were experiencing chronic/long-term unemployment. They had been jobless for at least two years and had left the National Work Programme without finding a job.

As part of the 'Working Well' programme package, local services worked with expert agencies to deliver individual support, focusing on specific barriers to employment.

The programme combined physical and mental health support and advice on drug and alcohol problems, skills, education, and housing. Each unemployed programme participant had 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.

The support organisations were only fully paid when the programme participant had been in work for at least a year.

On the Working Well: Pilot over 600 people found work, many of which continued working for 12 months or more. Additional benefits, such as improved health and reduced antisocial behaviour, were also positive outcomes seen in the programme.

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 started by expanding the Working Well pilot to 15,000 more people through the Working Well: Expansion. 

The same support was provided for more people, but this time to an improved standard. Using the lessons learnt from the initial Working Well: Pilot, the way different services work together to meet the precise needs of every person on the programme was altered to work in a more streamlined and efficient fashion. For example, new routes into the programme were introduced (such as recommendations from GPs).

The Working Well: Expansion’s keyworker provision was delivered by Ingeus and The Growth Company with bespoke Working Well Mental Health Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) support provided by Greater Manchester West NHS Trust in the form of the Working Well: Talking Therapies Service (TTS). Working Well: TTS ended in late 2018 having supported 1,522 Working Well: Expansion clients and a further 50 Working Well: Pilot clients. A Skills for Employment service was also delivered by The Growth Company. 

The Working Well: Expansion aimed to support 2,500 into work by December 2019. In fact, the programme achieved this 18 months earlier than expected reaching nearly 3,000 by December 2018. Helping our residents sustain this work for the long-term will be a sure sign that we are taking the right steps to a brighter future.

As with Working Well: Pilot, the expanded programme offered up to three years of support (including one year of in-work support). In total the programme supported 3,000 people into work.

Working Well: Work and Health Programme

Greater Manchester launched its Working Well: Work and Health Programme in January 2018. The programme aims to support the long-term unemployed and people with health conditions or disabilities into sustainable employment across the city-region.

First announced as part of the 2014 Devolution agreement, Greater Manchester successfully negotiated for the opportunity to co-design, procure and deliver a localised version of the new Work and Health Programme. As a result, the £64.4 million programme will support nearly 30,000 individuals across Greater Manchester between 2018 and 2026.

InWorkGM deliver the programme across Greater Manchester; an alliance partnership between Ingeus and The Growth Company, and also including the specialist health, wellbeing and disability support organisation Seetec Pluss.

The programme offers over 200 different health interventions through a keyworker-based delivery model.

Similar to the Working Well programmes that precede it, the programme brings together expertise and local knowledge to include integrated health, skills and employment support, and offers all participants individually tailored and personalised support from their own dedicated key worker to support them on their journey back to work.

Integration with local services is at the heart of the Working Well: Work and Health Programme. An Integration Coordinator in each of the ten boroughs across the region works closely with Local Authority leads and key partners to understand the needs of participants and maintain and create new partnerships with local providers or specialist organisations. This ensures the right support is available at the right time.

Ask your local Jobcentre Plus to register.
Eligibility criteria applies.

Working Well: Job Entry Targeted Support

As part of the devolved Working Well: Work and Health programme, Working Well: Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) began taking referrals from October 2020, and ran until April 2023, supporting nearly 20,000 Greater Manchester residents who were unemployed for 13 weeks or more and were in receipt of benefits.

Working Well: JETS was a light touch programme, with monthly interventions being primarily conducted remotely. Support was provided to its participants around CVs, job applications, identifying transferable skills, and confidence building, along with additional links and signposting to support around mental health, skills, and debt.

The primary focus was to support employability with a sector-based approach and response to local priorities. The programme provided fast-paced continuous support for a maximum of 182 days, aiming to get programme participants back into work within 6 weeks.

The programme was highly successful and achieved well above its expectations, moving over 10,000 residents into work.

Working Well: Early Help

Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester NHS Integrated Care Partnership worked together to co-develop and commission the Working Well: Early Help programme.

The purpose of Working Well: Early Help was to design and test an early intervention support system geared to support and advise individuals (with employment with health conditions or disabilities) who were at risk of falling out of work, or were newly unemployed due to their health complications and/or disabilities.

The £6.5m programme went live in March 2019 and ran until March 2022 and was delivered by MAXIMUS (UK) across all 10 localities. Working Well: Early Help was a unique service that did not have a national competitor. This is because it combined:

  • A health-led model focused on addressing health conditions and wider social determinants of health to enable individuals to move back into work.
  • The focus on early intervention to facilitate a quicker return to work and reduce the risk of long-term unemployment. The Flexible Test and Learn approach allowed the programme to respond to the newly unemployed who have been impacted by Covid-19 and poor health.
  • Rapid access to services (CBT and physiotherapy) for which there are long waiting times on the NHS.
  • Support for both SME employers and employees including advice and confidence building for programme participants to negotiate a return to work. The flexibility within the programme allowed for support to businesses impacted by Covid-19, such as care and the night-time economy, to be given.
  • A direct pathway for participating GP practices to refer in patients who were in receipt of a Fit Note to support a return to work.

Working Well: EnterprisingYou

Working Well: EnterprisingYou was a £7.7m test and learn pilot programme designed to support Greater Manchester residents who were self-employed or working within the gig economy. Part funded by the Department for Education; it was the only programme in England to support those working in the gig economy. Launched in February 2020, the programme ran to September 2023, supporting over 3,100 people across its lifetime.

Working Well: EnterprisingYou was designed to support people who were self-employed to develop and sustain their business, increase their skills levels and raise their income potential. The programme was delivered by The Growth Company in partnership with PeoplePlus.

For individuals accessing the programme, the service provided tailored support from a business coach, alongside access to specialist advice and guidance, which included help with managing personal finances, accessing legal advice, health and wellbeing support, careers advice and access to a peer-mentoring scheme. Free access to co-working space across Greater Manchester was also available for everyone on the programme should they have needed it, providing the opportunity for the use of office, meeting and networking space for those without their own dedicated premises.

All participants on the programme also had access to a wide range of fully funded training and development opportunities to support them to grow and develop their business. This could be anything from cyber security training to digital marketing, or an industry specific course that helped maximise their business potential.  Access to these training courses was bespoke based on their individual needs.

The Federation of Small Businesses used Working Well: EnterprisingYou as a positive case study with recommendations to government that it should continue and be expanded nationally.

Find out more by visiting: Enterprising You (external website)

Working Well: Specialist Employment Service

The employment rate of disabled people is one of the most significant inequalities in the UK today. Amongst these, people with learning disabilities and people with severe mental illness have the lowest employment rates, whilst the employment rate of autistic adults is also low. People in these groups want to work and more could work with the right support. Previously, access to suitable employment service provision in Greater Manchester was limited, so in response GMCA set up Working Well: Specialist Employment Service (SES).

The Working Well: Specialist Employment Service (SES), currently delivered by Pure Innovations in Partnership with PossAbilities, will provide access to specialist employment support for up to 1,500 residents between August 2020 and September 2024.

The £4.6m service brings together investment from the Mental Health Transformation Fund, the European Social Fund, and the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester with one Clinical Commissioning Group.

Working Well: SES has two strands, Supported Employment, which provides employment support for people with a learning disability and/or autism, and Individual Placement and Support, which provides employment support to people with a severe mental illness. The offer is an evidence-based model designed to support people with complex disabilities and health needs access and sustain paid work in the open labour market.

The model is a shift away from a ‘train and place’ model that focuses on job readiness, to a ‘place then train’ one that focuses on engagement with employers to make the job possible. Employer engagement and working with employers are critical components of the Supported Employment and Individual Placement and Support models. 

Referral routes are as follows:

  • Supported Employment: Adult Social Care Teams, Disability Employment Advisors at the Jobcentre Plus or SEND Education Providers
  • Individual Placement and Support: Secondary Care Mental Health Teams

Please note referrals to this programme have closed.

Working Well: Individual Placement and Support in Primary Care

Working Well: Individual Placement and Support in Primary Care (IPSPC) is a new programme designed to support residents with physical or mental health disabilities to access or retain paid employment.

The £3.7m service delivered by The Growth Company in partnership with Groundwork will support up to 1,500 individuals between September 2023 and March 2025 to move into competitive employment if they are out-of-work, or to return to and retain their work if they are in-work and off sick or struggling due to their disability.

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment that underpins the programme has traditionally focused on supporting individuals with severe mental illness accessing treatment through Secondary Care Mental Health services. Working Well: IPSPC will expand on the IPS model by taking referrals from primary care (e.g. Living Well, GP Practices, Primary Care Networks, Mental Health Practitioners, Social Prescribing Networks), including a wider cohort of participants (anyone with a physical or mental health disability) and introducing a job retention element for those struggling in work or off sick.

It is designed to build on the success of the IPS model, which moves away from a 'train and place' model that focuses on job readiness to a 'place, train, maintain' model that prioritises engagement with employers to create job opportunities for individuals. Evidence shows that this approach, with its focus on rapid job search, is more effective than a series of stepping stones to employment for certain cohorts.

Working in partnership with primary care providers, Working Well: IPSPC aims to offer individualised support including job coaching, benefits advice and other necessary support services to enable participants to achieve their job goals. The programme will work alongside a participant's normal health treatment, ensuring that employment support is provided in tandem with any medical or psychological care that they may receive.

Visit Working Well Individual Placement & Support in Primary Care ( to register.
Eligibility criteria applies.

Working Well: Pioneer

As a precursor to Universal Support and as part of the devolved Working Well: Work and Health Programme, Working Well: Pioneer is a new service which aims to support economically inactive residents to access and sustain paid work in the open labour market.

The £3.2m programme delivered by InWorkGM, an alliance partnership between Ingeus and The Growth Company, will provide intensive employment support for over 1,900 economically inactive residents with a wide array of needs between September 2023 and June 2026. The programme will be using the proven supported employment 'place and train' model which aims to move individuals quickly into work with wraparound in-work support once they start a job.

The programme will predominantly be taking referrals from a range of different eligible signposting organisations via outreach and is aimed at individuals who are committed to finding employment within 12 months. InWorkGM will be working closely with employers to ensure there is a good match between the strengths of the individual and the right job for them, not just any job. 

Participants are provided with early access to jobs based on their preferences and a wide range of holistic support through both internal and external services (including job and skills matching as well as a wide range of health interventions). Tailored support aligned to both the participant's and employer's needs is also provided to help the individual sustain in work which may involve job coaching, training, support from a workplace mentor and regular workplace reviews.

Ask your local Jobcentre Plus or visit to register.
Eligibility criteria applies.


Annual Report 

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2022 (PDF, 1.4MB)

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2022 - Alternative format (ODT, 1.4MB)

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2020 (Sheffield Hallam University)

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2021 (PDF, 1.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2022 (PDF, 2.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2022 (ODT, 2.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2021 (Word, 3.4MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2020 (PDF, 2.4MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2019 (PDF, 3.1MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2018 (PDF, 2.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2017 (PDF, 2.4MB)

Quarterly Brochures

Working Well Quarterly Brochure- June 2018 (PDF, 1.2MB)

Working Well Quarterly Brochure- August 2018 (PDF, 1.5MB)

Working Well Quarterly Brochure- December 2018 (PDF, 958KB)