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Work Choice

Country of implementation
United Kingdom
General short description of the innovation
Work Choice is a voluntary employment support programme to either help disabled people who find it hard to get and keep a job or employed people whose jobs are at risk because of their disability. The programme has a greater focus on those who need specialist support, and notably seeks to increase the level of employment for people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. / / Work Choice is delivered by various organisations from the public, private and third sector, with eight different prima providers and Remploy as non-contracted national provider. There are three levels of help: 1) initial work entry support including advice and skills training. 2) in-work support and 3) long-term in-work support to help participants progress within their jobs. In-work support can be a supported job in mainstream employment or a job within a supported business. Provided that they are not referred to any other employment support scheme, both benefit recipients and non-recipients can be referred to the programme. Most of the referrals are made by Disability Employment Advisors from the Jobcentre Plus. Employment support providers receive weighted outcome-based payments on the basis of sustained job outcomes they achieve. Due to the particular barriers disabled people face with regard to participation in labour market, the first up-front payment is larger than those paid under the Work Programme. With a standard contract length of five years the contracts are longer than in previous schemes. / Employers can claim a wage incentive if they offer a job lasting 26 weeks to an 18 to 24-year-old disabled person participating in Work Choice. The type of work must be a at least 16 hours per week. Claiming rates increase with the number of weekly hours worked: 16-29 hours: 1,137.50; more than 30 hours: 2,275. / / Work Choice co-exists in parallel to the mandatory Work Programme, the government?s major welfare-to-work programme. In contrast to the small Work Choice scheme a more significant number of people with disabilities are referred to the Work Programme. Work Choice replaced the previously existing WORKSTEP and Work Preparation.
Target group
Disabled
Policy Field
  • employment
  • social
Type of Policy
  • public-private partnership
Scope of innovation
  • Number of intended beneficiaries: about 20,000 referrals a year
  • Spatial coverage: Great Britain (Northern Ireland has is its own scheme)
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The employment support programme aims to help disabled people who find it hard to get and keep a job or employed people whose jobs are at risk because of their disability. It has a strong focus on those who need specialist support, and notably seeks to increase the level of employment for people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. Outcome-based payments, less prescrition and greater flexibility for the support providers as well as longer service contracts should help achieving sustainable outcomes. More choice and control options for programme participants to improve entry and progression in unsupported employment.
Type of innovation
  • retrenchment or expansion of an existing/earlier policy
New outputs
  • others (adaptive workplaces)
  • services
Intended target group
People with disabilities
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • agency or national social insurance body (Jobcentre Plus)
  • private for-profit organisations (commercial)
  • private not-for-profit organisations (e.g. Third Sector organisation or NGO)
Clarification of the role of various actors
Work Choice is delivered by various organisations from the public, private and third sector, with eight different prima providers and Remploy as non-contracted national provider. Provided that they are not referred to any other employment support scheme, both benefit recipients and non-recipients can be referred to the programme. Most of the referrals are made by Disability Employment Advisors from the Jobcentre Plus. Employment support providers receive weighted outcome-based payments on the basis of sustained job outcomes they achieve.
Intended output
  • job guidance, coaching and counselling
  • others (adaptive workplaces)
  • services
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
Recent statistics published in May 2013 show a continuing improvement in the Work Choice performance. 33.9% of those who started the programme in the second quarter of 2012 got into work compared to 22.7% of those starting in the fourth quarter of 2010 when the programme started (DWP 2013). DWP-commissioned evaluation (Purvis 2013) of the programme suggests that the supported business model is effective in bringing or keeping people in employment. There is no clear evidence that the financial support for employers with mixed reviews of the wage incentive element for young people. The evaluation also found that there is more concern about monitoring and managing outcomes than with service quality. Furthermore, the decision to refer some Employment and Support Allowance claimants to the Work Progamme (those of the Work Related Activity Group) might block their access to Work Choice. / / Some critical comments highlighted that those referred to the programme actually would not start it (ERSA 2013). Furthermore, only 15% of the referrals would be on disability benefits whereas the bigger share are Jobseeker Allowance claimants. The programme therefore risks to rather help those closer to labour market than the hardest-to-help and people with special needs. / / Sources: / Purvis, A., Foster, S., Lane, P., Aston, J. and Davies, M. (2013). Evaluation of the Work Choice Specialist Disability Employment Programme. DWP Research Report No. 846. / DWP (2013). Work Choice statistics release, May 2013: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/wchoice/wc_may13.pdf / Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) (2013). Policy Briefing: Work Choice.
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