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This isn’t working. Reimagining employment support for people facing complex disadvantage

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The DWP-led employment support system is failing millions of people who face complex disadvantage, often involving disabilities and long-term health conditions. This report sets out a case for a more community-led approach to employment support for this group. 

 The current system works on its own terms, creating transactional processes at the expense of meaningful relationships and focussing on people’s deficits rather than their capabilities. Based on interviews and workshops with a wide range of individuals, practitioners and commissioners, this research sets out a practical blueprint for a new approach. This would be a locallybased and community-led approach that is better equipped to respond to the reality of people’s lives, build trust and work with individuals to realise their aspirations for a secure future.   

Despite decades of government commitments and reforms, millions of people with more complex needs and circumstances continue to be excluded from employment.

The picture is particularly stark for ill and disabled people, with only around 50 per cent in employment, compared to around 80 per cent of the non-disabled population. But a wider range of social factors, including substance misuse, housing and homelessness, and contact with the criminal justice system also heavily impact on people’s prospects of finding work. This project, funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, will bring together two bold and radical agendas that, in combination, hold the potential to both explain why past efforts to address this issue have failed, and to offer a vision for a fundamentally different approach to supporting these groups.


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