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‘Exciting’ devolved Work and Health Programme launched across London

An employment support programme designed to help residents land sustained employment has today been launched across the capital.

The Work and Health Programme (WHP) in London will be split into four sub-regional groups of boroughs that will focus on providing tailored support to disabled people, those with long-term health conditions, and people who have been out of work for more than two years.

It makes up a significant element of the capital’s devolution agenda – with the DWP devolving a five-year grant funding worth up to £135m to the four groups, with match-funding from the European Social Fund – and should help strengthen the case for even more localised powers and budgets from central government.

Cllr Claire Kober, chair of London Councils, argued the devolution of the WHP will realise the potential of Londoners who are currently excluded from the “social and economic benefits of work,” a figure which the organisation estimates to be at around 570,000. The disability employment gap has also “barely moved in a decade,” standing at a whopping 26.3% in the capital.

“It is exciting news that London boroughs working together in sub-regional partnerships have their contracts in place and are now launching their programmes,” she added. “We hope that delivering tailored employment support that meets local needs will start to have a real impact on people’s lives.”

The devolved WHP package will allow boroughs to work more flexibility with employment support providers and coordinate a wider range of services around the individual person.

For example, the sub-regions are now able to adopt variations on the payment models to those used in the national WHP – with west, central and south London having created different payment models which encourage providers to support people into jobs that pay the London Living Wage.

“Far too many disabled and vulnerable Londoners face barriers when looking for work. The London WHP can give them support to realise their potential, and will make a real difference to thousands of people’s lives,” said deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, Jules Pipe.

“This is yet another example of cities and their local government being best-placed to identify and meet the specific needs of their residents.”


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