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£12.4 million to help change choices about work

  • £12.4 million awarded to six innovative new projects to understand barriers to getting into work
  • projects include investigating the impact of endometriosis on women’s work choices and how programmes to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes can improve workforce participation
  • funding will help overcome barriers facing those who need the most support getting into work

The projects comprise the first round of the Labour Market Evaluation and Pilots Fund, and take place over the next two years. The results will help to transform the government’s approach to the jobs market and drive forward research into best practice in employment.

While the UK’s employment rate is higher than a number of other advanced economies, the government is committed to ensure that those who most need help getting into the workplace are supported.

The Chancellor announced a range of interventions to address this at Spring Budget 2023 – including a significant expansion of childcare support, making 30 hours of free childcare a week available to parents from children aged 9 months. The Labour Market Evaluation and Pilots Fund is part of that and will be used to test new approaches and generate better evidence to help specific groups back into work or to work longer hours.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins, said:

“Our jobs record is incredibly strong, with high employment that means millions of people are benefiting from work. But for some, that’s not happening.

“We need to look for solutions that are tailored to help people thrive in the jobs market. This analysis is the first step towards that – looking at specific health conditions or living arrangements to find out what works to help people work.”

Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression Mims Davies MP said:

“The vital opportunities and confidence employment gives, helps to transform lives. This is why we are determined to support all those who want to progress to do so, while also driving down inactivity and importantly growing the economy.

“This key new funding for our pilots will enable us to support even more people to move forward in work, including vitally those in supported accommodation and more disadvantaged communities, to help people to break down any barriers to work, so more people can fulfil their employment potential.”

National Statistician, Sir Ian Diamond, said:

“The ONS welcomes the opportunity to shine light on this important area with these projects. This new analysis will provide crucial insight for decision makers in helping to understand how health conditions impact on people’s working lives and what interventions can help people stay in work.”

Minister for the Women’s Health Strategy Maria Caulfield said:

“Endometriosis can be a debilitating condition that stops women and girls from living their lives to their fullest potential.

“Through the Women’s Health Strategy we have set an ambition for all women and girls with severe endometriosis to experience better care, with reduced waiting times for diagnosis and providing funding for key research into the condition.

“The support doesn’t stop at health, and today’s announcement demonstrates how we’re taking a cross-government approach to help women with endometriosis get back to living their best lives.”

One of the projects includes a first-of-its-kind Office for National Statistics (ONS) evaluation which will investigate the impact of endometriosis on women’s participation and progression in the workforce. Endometriosis can affect around 1 in 10 women, with symptoms including chronic pain and fatigue which can disrupt daily routines, fertility and mental health and time off work may be needed for coping with symptoms. Previous work has shown that women with the condition often take this into consideration when making career choices, including the likelihood they will need to take significantly more sick leave. This project will improve understanding and help inform government plans to support women with the condition in their careers.

A second project by the ONS will evaluate whether programmes to reduce the risk of developing type two diabetes and obesity improve people’s ability to join the labour market. Around 3.8 million people in the UK have type 2 diabetes and 2.4 million are at high risk of developing the disease which can have a strong effect on quality of life, including the ability to work. The evaluation will include reviewing the impact of the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP), a large scale nine-month, evidence-based lifestyle change programme aimed at people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

There will also be a new pilot to address barriers to work faced by those aged 18-24 living in supported housing, which is accommodation provided alongside care, support or supervision to help people live as independently as possible in the community and can act as a pathway to transitioning into work.

To support young people in making that transition, DWP and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have developed a Proof of Concept that will test financial support and simplification of the benefits system for 18-24 year olds living in supported housing who move into work or increase their working hours. This will help them to build their employment prospects further, work towards becoming financially independent and progress into move on accommodation in a planned way.

Funding will also be allocated to two HMRC projects to evaluate the impact of Tax-Free Childcare on parents’ work choices and women’s return to work after maternity leave. In addition, funding will be provided to DWP to trial employment support and rent incentives to move people out of work or on low earnings into work or onto higher earnings.

Further information

  • At Spring Budget, the government announced a comprehensive employment package designed to remove the barriers preventing people from working and support them into the UK’s labour market, to boost economic growth, unlock the UK’s productive potential, and raise living standards. It is estimated to move 110,000 more individuals into the labour market by 2027-28, the largest supply-side policy adjustment the OBR have made to their forecast since 2010.
  • Bids for the first round of the Labour Market Evaluation and Pilots Fund were assessed collaboratively by the joint HMT and Cabinet Office Evaluation Task Force.
  • Further rounds of funding will be allocated in due course to evaluate new and existing labour market measures, move people into work and increase productivity. The results of these projects will inform future labour market policy.
  • The Rent Simplification and Support Proof of Concept scheme is led by the Department for Work and Pensions and would mean young people in supported housing, who start work or increase their hours, would only have to pay up to a capped amount towards their rent (e.g. Local Housing Allowance equivalent rent amount) as opposed to the full rent liability.

  • For further information on government action to improve healthcare quality and access for women, please see the Women’s Health Strategy for England, and what we’ve achieved so far over the first year of the strategy.

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