Thousands of West London residents who have recently lost their job due to COVID-19 can now access targeted support to help them get back into work, following the expansion of the Work and Health programme.
From today more than £12m is being made available via Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) to help an extra 9,000 people to find work and to develop new skills (e.g. digital) and retrain to enhance their chances of securing alternative employment.
The West London Alliance (which includes the seven London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow) welcomes the additional funding and is making the case to Government for more support. As of September, 2020, 8.1% of London residents were claiming benefits compared to 6.5% across the UK. In West London this equates to 77,500 extra claimants compared to September last year and the position is set to worsen when furlough ends this month. As of July, 2020, there were over 363,000 people across the WLA boroughs on furlough – more than a quarter of London’s total.
Its recently published ‘Build and Recover’ Strategy outlines the West London Alliance’s ambition to scale up the local employment support offer even further in order to meet the increasing demand in West London.
Chairman of the WLA’s Economic Prosperity Board and Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan said, “West London has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 so there is a greater demand for this kind of support. It has seen some of the highest increases in unemployment and this is before furlough finishes at the end of this month.
“We’re doing everything we can to find ways to help our communities and businesses including through our Skills Escalator programme which is designed to boost people’s skills once they’re in employment.
Cllr Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, which commissioned the service on behalf of WLA added, “Uniquely, we are matching the DWP grant with European Social Fund monies to offer more places and a richer service with more links to training than are available in other parts of the country. But more funding will be needed to help our residents transition to new jobs in different sectors.”
The Work and Health programme is a national scheme which began in February, 2018 and is co-financed by the DWP and European Social Fund. It is delivered in West London through the Shaw Trust. The accompanying case study illustrates how the programme can make a positive difference to someone’s life, especially during the current crisis.