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South London Councils to jointly commission Work and Health Programme

Five south London councils are to work in partnership to commission a new work and health programme after the budget was devolved from Whitehall.

Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton councils are working together as part of the South London Partnership to help add value to residents across the five boroughs. The councils will commission the delivery of the employment support programme to residents in their boroughs for the first time.

The new programme which is expected to begin in spring 2018, replaces the previously government run Work Programme and will concentrate on helping people who have been unemployed for longer than two years or who have struggled to get into work due to health problems or disability, into jobs. It will also address other difficulties including a lack of basic education, debt and homelessness. 

One to one advice and support from a case worker will also be offered as part of the programme to address the often complex barriers to employment. The support will be integrated with the existing services offered by the councils and other local partners, which will ensure local expertise is drawn upon when helping on additional matters such as basic skills, training, health, housing and English for speakers of other languages.

Local authorities across the capital will share funding from the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund, working together through four sub-regional contracts which will be procured over the next 12 months.  Croydon Council is leading on the procurement for the South London Partnership and about £15m will be spent on the delivery of the programme in Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton between 2018 and 2023.

The new Work and Health Programme will see boroughs work together to develop and deliver a single programme across the five areas, that combines the support currently offered individually by the councils.