Employment Minister Chris Grayling will visit a social enterprise centre in Harrogate this week to see for himself the impact Government spending cuts are having on skills training for those needing additional support to prepare them for employment.
The visit is also intended to highlight the importance of small community based training schemes that offer more personalised support programmes and greater continuity of care than larger organisations.
Paperworks has been providing work experience and skills training since 1994 and helps people overcome ill health and disability to find employment.
Manager Damien Handslip said funding cuts were putting some trainee places at risk and he called for urgent changes to Government and local authority policy to make it easier for people to return to work after ill health and remain in employment.
Mr Handslip said:
Paperworks receives no financial incentive from the DWP to secure a job for trainees and the fact that support payments stop as soon as employment begins means they often drop back out of work very quickly.
The Minister will hear about two trainees whose needs are not being met by the current system.
Mr Handslip added:
One of these trainees has had his funding removed entirely because he fails to meet any of the local authority criteria yet he clearly needs support.
The situation is causing him a great deal of distress and we are trying to meet his training costs from our own limited funds.
The other has completed a Work Choice programme with another organisation but has been dropped now that funding has ceased and left without the specific support he needs.
We are offering him advice by telephone and email because he would otherwise have no meaningful job search support and still doesn’t have a job.
Mr Handslip believes small not-for-profit organisations like Paperworks that are at the heart of their communities hold the key to some of the issues facing people who need additional support to prepare them for employment.
Organisations like ours can work flexibly and help people in a personalised way, particularly those with extra support needs, and because we are part of the community we understand local issues and have good relationships with employers in the area.
Mr Handslip said he would also be asking the minister to review the current tendering process for DWP contracts to support people into employment, which he believes favours large providers even though smaller organisations like his are better placed to meet individual needs.
Small organisations struggle to become second tier providers because of the enormity of the task, which involves negotiating with all potential prime contractors for the area, which can be as many as ten or 15.
I managed to get a response from six or seven last time we tried, but the successful contractor was one of those I didn’t manage to contact. Previously we were a contractor direct with Job Centre Plus.
See www.paperworks.org.uk for further details.