West Midlands wins funding to pilot disability employment support

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has won government funding to pilot plans to help people with health problems find jobs - and keep them.

It was announced as part of ambitious plans by government to get a million more people with disabilities into work over the next 10 years.

The strategy, launched by Work & Pensions Secretary David Gauke and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, sets out steps to bring employers, the welfare system and health services together.

One initiative is Individual Placement Support, an innovative employment trial, to be piloted by the WMCA and Sheffield City Region.

It will involve more than 11,000 people with health conditions in large-scale research programmes, aimed at improving services that will help them to get into work and stay employed.

Thrive West Midlands implementation director, Sean Russell, said the announcement was great news for the region and there would soon be more details of how the pilot would work.

He said:  “It’s very exciting – we have been looking forward to hearing from government that we can go ahead with this work in the West Midlands.”

The UK has near record high employment levels with over 32 million people in work, including 600,000 more disabled people in the last 4 years alone.

However, ill health that keeps people out of work costs the economy an estimated £100 billion a year, including £7 billion in costs to the NHS.