Helping Londoners with disabilities or long-term health conditions into work

by Duncan Melville


16 06 2021


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Working Capital was a pilot programme of integrated employment and health support for people with a disability or a long-term health condition. Central London Forward led its development and implementation. It operated in central / inner London.

Participants were very disadvantaged…

Participants in Working Capital were very disadvantaged, with most having low levels of education. A significant proportion of participants had been out of work for very lengthy periods of time: more than four fifths had been out of work for over four years.

These levels of disadvantage, and the consequent barriers to work that participants faced, meant that intensive support, over an extended period, was needed for participants to make a successful move into work.

Regular wide-ranging support was essential…

Regular, appropriately sequenced support delivered by an understanding, flexible and approachable caseworker built trust with participant meaning they felt confident that they could talk about their wider needs. Work placements were an important form of support as they helped participants gain experience of work without having to sign off benefits.

The frequency of support received varied noticeably by age: 55 percent of those aged 35 to 49 met their caseworker once a fortnight compared to 33 percent for those aged 50 and over. Outcomes for the over 50s were also much lower than for younger age groups.

Participants saw the one-to-one support from their caseworker as the most useful support they had received followed by help with developing or improving their CV. Where they had received health and wellbeing support, participants were positive about their experience, and believed that this support had helped them find employment or helped with confidence levels and managing stress.

Working Capital achieved a range of positive outcomes and delivered value for money.

Thirteen percent of Working Capital participants entered work. On a wider definition, 35 percent of participants achieved a positive outcome in terms of a job, volunteering, or participation in education or training.  These are outcomes for a group, which as we have seen, was very disadvantaged and distanced from the labour market. The programme also had positive impacts on participants’ health and softer outcomes, such as confidence and motivation.

At the time of completing our final evaluation report, we had no up to date estimate of the impact of Working Capital on job entry. Hence, our estimates of the net additional impact of the programme relative to what might have happened anyway were based on the information then available to us. This inevitably means that there is some uncertainty surrounding our assessment of the programme’s value for money. Our central estimate suggests that for every £1 of costs the programme returned benefits to society of £1.20. This indicates that Working Capital achieved value for money as its benefits outweighed its costs.

The estimated benefits to society from Working Capital included both economic benefits in terms of additional economic output and non-economic benefits, including reduced NHS costs from participants’ improved health and improved levels of wellbeing.

Key recommendations for future employment programmes were…

Our key recommendations for future programmes dealing with similarly disadvantaged participants include that:

  • Employment programmes that aim to address multiple and complex needs should be flexible and responsive enough to respond to individuals’ needs.
  • A tailored approach to individual support, offering a range of services, is central to overcoming the barriers to entering and sustaining work.
  • All participants should receive intensive levels of support with a minimum level of service provision to ensure all participants are adequately supported.

Read the full Working Capital evaluation here