Programme set to allocate £4k per person for 12 months to secure work

The UK government has unveiled a funding injection of £58 million to enhance employment support for disabled people and those with health conditions in England. This funding initiative aims to assist 25,000 individuals and forms part of the recently introduced Universal Support programme, which was announced in March. Under the programme, the government will allocate up to £4,000 per person for a duration of up to 12 months, enabling them to swiftly secure suitable employment and maintain their jobs in the long term. This announcement comes as TALiNT International reported that around 2.5 million have left the workforce because of long term illness. Additionally, poor health has been identified as a primary cause of forced retirement among individuals over the age of 50.

Mel Stride, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, expressed her optimism that this programme would enable individuals to engage in fulfilling work while receiving the necessary assistance. She said, “This marks a significant milestone in our commitment to invest in employment support for people with health conditions. Through the reforms outlined earlier this year, we will continue to provide more inclusive employment opportunities nationwide as part of our efforts to unlock people’s potential and stimulate economic growth.”

Patrick Thomson, the Head of Research Analysis and Policy at thinktank Phoenix Insights, praised the new funding as it will offer better prospects for individuals aged 50 and above. He emphasised, “The number of people unemployed due to long-term illness has reached unprecedented levels, with the over-50 age group particularly affected. The average wealth of 50-64 year-olds who are economically inactive due to ill health or disability is just 5% of those who have voluntarily retired early. More must be done to support this demographic in remaining or returning to employment, as failure to do so may lead to financial hardships in retirement.”

Angela Matthews, the Head of Policy and Research at Business Disability Forum, also welcomed the funding announcement. She said, “On one level, the government’s announcement is highly positive. It recognises the interconnectedness between a disabled person’s work, home, and ongoing health support. We see all these policy areas converging in this announcement.”

Furthermore, she cautioned that the government’s approach to supporting employment is becoming increasingly complex for employers. Angela noted, “HR teams frequently inform us that there are numerous government schemes and announcements concerning disability-related support in the workplace, making it difficult to discern which programmes have ended and which are still active. The government should clarify the available options for HR departments and hiring managers to simplify the uptake of these schemes for employers.”