Households into Work, an innovative scheme to help people who have been long-term unemployed into training and work, has supported more than 800 households in its first year, according to a report to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

Delivered by the Combined Authority, the scheme started in March 2018, and sees a team of 25 advocates working with households across the city region.

Households into Work is a pilot scheme funded with £3.5m from the Department for Work and Pensions, and £1m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

Under the programme, the 25 advocates, based in each of the six Liverpool City Region local authority areas, are working with households where two or more adults are not in work and, because of their complex circumstances, find themselves unable to engage in a sustained search for employment.

Advocates work with clients with a wide range of barriers to employment, including mental health issues, caring responsibilities, experience of domestic abuse, chronic health issues, isolation and homelessness, and put a bespoke intensive support package in place for each individual to help them get into the workplace.

As of March 2019, Households into Work has:

  • Worked with 834 households against a target of 800
  • Had 376 households make significant improvements/move closer to work, against a target of 200
  • Seen 460 households complete at least one activity, against a target of 400
  • Successfully moved 11% of clients into employment, against a target of 15% (this figure had increased to 14% by May 2019)

Marie from St Helens, who has been part of Households into Work for five months, said:

“My life before was so chaotic, I was taking drugs every day…I lost my benefits so was worried about losing my home but there’s been a huge change.”

“Kev, my employment advocate, has helped me sort my universal credit and given me vouchers for electricity and food. I am struggling, but I’m doing alright. I’ve surprised myself really. I didn’t think I’d be doing this well but I am. It’s really hard but I’m looking at volunteering soon. It’s given me hope for the future and I’ve just got to keep going and take those steps.” 

Speaking about the scheme, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:

“When I was elected, I said that I want to ensure that fairness and social justice is etched into every policy, every service and economic initiative delivered through the Combined Authority.  

“A major part of that has to be ensuring that everyone in the city region has the opportunity to reach their potential.  And that means making sure that people have second chances.

“And that is what this fantastic scheme is all about.  I have been out and met people who have benefited from Households into Work and seen how people with many barriers to overcome have flourished thanks to this scheme and the dedicated advocates who deliver it.

“When you think that 20% of the people on the scheme have never worked, and nearly 40% have been unemployed for more than three years, the progress we are seeing is extraordinary.  And that progress doesn’t just benefit the individuals and households directly involved – it benefits entire communities and ultimately the public purse.”

Independent research by the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice has shown that individuals who may have felt ‘disenfranchised’ from interaction with support services, employment or members of the public, tend to credit the positive experience they have with Households into Work in giving them greater autonomy and agency within the lives.

The following quotes are from interviews conducted by researchers with Households into Work clients:

“While on this course, the staff, they sit and listen to your experiences of your past and stuff. And they look at you and they put you on the right track of trying to change well, change your life. Having someone who…that wants to sit and actually listen to give you the right direction of where…where to go and helping you get in touch with the right people.”

Female Mid 40s

“I wasn’t sure about it at first, you know, ’cause I’ve been put on quite a few schemes and nothing’s come of it. So I thought the same thing was gonna happen again, while I was at Households into Work. But I was completely wrong about it. Like a godsend, actually. Really helped me a lot”

Male Early 20s

The research identified a number of areas in which clients made significant improvements:

  • Emotional wellbeing and development of soft skills.
  • Participants’ confidence and engagement with services.
  • Stability – making wider improvements to individuals’ lives by improving areas such as the condition of housing or access to household goods.

 And researchers found that since the programme became operational in March 2018 the advocates have been able to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Engaged and built effective relationships with those households that are traditionally harder to reach, or whose previous engagement with mainstream services had been minimal;
  • Worked with those individuals/households with the highest levels of need;
  • Identified and started to address wider, and in some circumstances, long-standing issues within the household, which had become a barrier to employment;
  • Created effective referral routes to other entitlements or to wider generic services;
  • Increased the visibility and accessibility of services; including counselling and debt management for Households in need;
  • Developed effective working relationships with local agencies including; Job Centre Plus, Training Providers, Community Groups, Registered Social Landlords and the NHS;
  • When required, established an effective multi-agency approach to address complex issues at a household level; and
  • Achieved generally high levels of satisfaction with the service provided.
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