Policy in Practice was invited to host a session on how Universal Credit is supporting people on the work and health programme at the revamped Employment and Skills Conference 2018.

Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator helps people on the Work and Health programme understand and navigate the benefit system and how the move onto Universal Credit will affect them. In our session we were joined by Marise Mackie, Contract Manager, from Pluss and Hazel Dales, Partnership & Integration Manager from Ingeus. They shared practical, on the ground examples of the work they’re doing to help people transform their lives as Universal Credit rolls out across the UK.

Tackling the disability employment gap

Disability remains by far the biggest barrier to work. The Government wants to see 1 million more people with disabilities in work by 2027 and has most recently committed funding of £4.2m to help people with mental health and musculoskeletal conditions stay in work. Policy in Practice’s own analysis shows that just 1.5% of all workless households with someone living with disability moved into work between January 2016 and January 2017, far lower than any other group.

Just 1.5% of all workless households with someone living with disability moved into work between 2016 and 2017

Why is it so hard to close the disability employment gap?

A recent Policy in Practice survey found that the biggest challenge frontline advisors face when helping people with disabilities into work is a lack of suitable employment opportunities. This significant challenge was closely followed by the need to help a person overcome their specific disability barrier. Other notable challenges include the ability to identify and engage with those who may benefit from support and poor financial work incentives and inadequate costs of work support.

Lack of suitable employment opportunities is the biggest challenge to helping people with disabilities into work

Marise Mackie and Hazel Dales agreed, adding that raising the aspirations of people who have been out of work for a long time can often be as important a factor in success.

Deven Ghelani was joined at E&W18 by Marise Mackie, Pluss, and Hazel Dales, Ingeus

Marise highlighted the importance of finding ‘hidden vacancies’, typically unplanned or unconventional roles that can add real value to the organisation. She also urged frontline advisors to be tenacious, as not all employers ‘get it’ immediately.

Marise shared the experiences of Reuben and Tom who both have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. They each faced significant barriers to work which they successfully overcame, with Pluss’ help.

Reuben’s story

Tom’s story

Hazel said that working with local authorities and ensuring that support is not just signposted, but is truly followed through, can really help resolve issues that affect work search. Such issues can include management of debt or housing. In Ingeus’ experience, this is best done when information is shared, often in the same geographic location.

Sally-Anne’s story

Sally-Anne is on her journey back to paid employment after caring for her husband for many years; he’s now moved to residential care. She has physical mobility issues, anxiety and depression, and felt quite isolated. The community centre where she sees her Ingeus caseworker hosts coffee mornings and the NHS deliver psychological therapy from there too, which is very convenient for Sally-Anne. The centre is also where she attends the IT course her caseworker helped her to access, to help achieve her goal of a job in reception or administrative work where she can be seated. Sally-Anne’s confidence is growing and the centre is becoming a hub for her socially.

Martha’s story

Martha’s been out of work for a few years due to anxiety. Her confidence was very low and she needed lots of support and reassurance from the Ingeus team. This included help with goal setting from her caseworker and job search support from the hub guide, several times a week. After mock interviews with the employer account manager, Martha was put forward for a role in support work, and she was successful. Her caseworker called in regularly in her first few days in the new role, ensuring that Martha’s anxiety didn’t get the better of her.

To help the financial transition to work, Martha was received a better off calculation using Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator and it was at this point that Martha’s personal debt issues became apparent. The Ingeus team wrote to courts to establish repayment plans, helped her apply for in-work benefits and ensured she had travel funds for her first weeks at work. Martha is now settled and still regularly comes to the hub to continue her job search to better paid work now, she has gained experience.

Moving into work may mean moving onto Universal Credit

Helping someone who’s been out of work for a long time move into work can trigger a move from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit. To help people understand how the transition will affect them both Ingeus and Pluss use Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator.

Pluss and Ingeus use Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator to show people the impact of moving into work

This graphic, from a Benefit and Budgeting Calculator calculation, shows a single unemployed person on the Work and Health programme moving into 20 hours of work per week, at £10 an hour. The chart clearly illustrates the changes in take home income under both systems, both in and out of work. This person would see an increase of over £185 per month under Universal Credit, more than under the current benefit system.

“We believe that, with the right support, most people can find work and build a career. We chose to work with Policy in Practice because their unparalleled expertise in simplifying the welfare system, as well as their Benefit and Budgeting Calculator, allows us to deliver innovative services to jobseekers across the entire Southern region.”
Marise Mackie, Pluss

Hard work is taking place across the welfare to work ecosystem to support people with the right information and help. Policy in Practice is proud to be supporting people across the UK move towards financial independence.

Read more

View the slides presented by Deven, Marise and Hazel at Employment and Work 2018 here.

Find out more about how Pluss helps support people with disabilities on their journey into work using Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator via this recent webinar with Marise Mackie.

Register for an upcoming webinar

TitleDateStart TimeDurationRegister
How Autumn’s income shocks will hit low income families The factors that have kept many low-income families out of poverty in the past year are changing, meaning many thousands will be worse off.

Families are set to be hit by big income shocks with the ending of furlough, the reintroduction of the Minimum Income Floor, the loss of the £20 a week Universal Credit increase and the ending of the Benefit Cap's grace period. New data analysis from Policy in Practice predicts significant losses for some families who will struggle to cope and who will need the support of frontline organisations to help them through.

In this webinar we will explore what the Autumn may bring for low-income households and how support organisations can work now to prevent hardship and prepare for an increased demand for services.

Join this webinar to learn:

- How much different households are set to lose when Covid supports are withdrawn
- What support tools are available for individuals and organisations
- Best practice advice from a frontline organisation

We will be joined by Monica Kaur from the Money and Pensions Service.
29/9/202110:30 BST1.3 hours
How Kent County and district councils collaborate with data to tackle poverty Covid has turned our world upside down. Many residents in Kent, as elsewhere, have experienced financial hardship whilst, for organisations, the pandemic has been the catalyst energising them to work differently.

In summer 2020 Kent Districts and Communities Recovery Cell set up a group to focus support to residents at risk or already experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic. Residents unused to facing financial hardship suddenly needed help to navigate support and advice systems. The group knew that things are likely to get worse for Kent's residents before they get better as furlough ends and families who were just about managing are tipped over the edge.

In a first for local government, Kent county and district councils have boldly chosen to collaboratively share their data to get powerful cross-county insights that will drive their poverty prevention activity. The information will help them to target of a wide range of campaigns to residents such as employment support, free school meal take-up, public health interventions, housing initiatives and benefits take up.

Importantly, the project has transparency built in so that councils can very easily benchmark with each other to identify and share best practice in a safe, collaborative way.

Join this webinar to hear:

- Kent County Council's vision for greater collaborative working with districts
- Maidstone District Council's drivers for districts to collaborate with their data
- Folkestone and Hythe District Council's impact achieved so far from data-led poverty prevention campaigns

We will be joined by guest speakers, Zena Cooke, Corporate Director Finance at Kent County Council, Steve McGinnes, Director of Mid Kent Services at Maidstone District Council, and Jane Worrel, Revenues and Benefits Senior Specialist at Folkestone and Hythe District Council.
20/10/202110:30 BST1.3 hours
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