Back to Work Plan
The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced a package of employment support measures as part of the Back to Work Plan. This £2.5bn investment aims to help up to 1.1 million people with long-term health conditions, disabilities or who are long-term unemployed to look for and stay in work.
The Back to Work Plan includes exploring reforms of the fit note system, expansion of available treatment and employment support, and measures that strengthen the sanctions process as part of the next generation of welfare reforms. Key measures include:
- Fit note reform – to improve the assessment of fitness for work, provide easy and rapid access to specialised work and health support, and enable more people to resume work after a period of illness. Government will formally consult on proposals for this new approach in 2024.
- Universal Support in England and Wales – participants will access up to 12 months of personalised ‘place and train’ support. The individual will be supported by a dedicated keyworker who will help the participant find and keep a job, with up to £4,000 of funding available to provide each participant with training, help to manage health conditions or help for employers to make necessary accommodations to the person’s needs.
- WorkWell – to support almost 60,000 long-term sick or disabled people to start, stay and succeed in work. A prospectus launched in the coming weeks will provide information for all Integrated Care Systems across England to develop their localised work and health strategies. The service will then be delivered in up to 15 pilot areas.
- Extending and expanding the Restart Scheme for 2 years – Restart, a work-support programme that assists claimants in overcoming barriers to getting back to work through coaching, CV and interview skills, and training will be extended, claimant referrals to the scheme will be brought forward to six months from nine months, and new post-restart review and pathway trials will be introduced alongside sanctions for those who refuse to engage.
Also announced was the expansion of two Department for Health and Social Care-led measures, Talking Therapies, and Individual Placement and Support both for adults with mental health conditions.
Strengthened sanctions will also be introduced:
- More stringent conditionality, smarter compliance monitoring and stronger sanctions for long term unemployed people or people on Universal Credit who fail to engage.
- For people who should be looking for work but aren’t, closing the claims of individuals on an open-ended sanction for over six months (this only applies to people solely eligible for the Universal Credit standard allowance) and the use of digital tools to track claimants’ attendance at job fairs and interviews.
- Rooting out fraud and error using the government’s Targeted Case Reviews to review Universal Credit claims of individuals on an open-ended sanction and disengaged for over eight weeks, ensuring they receive the right entitlement.