It was upon seeing a flyer in the window of the local Job Centre that I became aware of the scheme that is seeking to combat discrimination and work hard to support people with disabilities into work. We are actively looking to get involved with the initiative to help deaf people into work too. Commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) – which operates as a devolved governance collective for the ten local authorities across the region (Manchester, Salford, Trafford, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, and Wigan) – InWorkGM ‘supports residents of Greater Manchester, who are in receipt of health benefits, to help improve their overall health and wellbeing and begin to move forward to find employment when appropriate.’

A pilot, run initially by Salford City Council, on behalf of the GMCA, and part-funded by the European Social Fund, it was established as a research trial to investigate whether a locally designed and delivered approach to employment support – complemented by integrated local services – achieves better outcomes for long-term workless clients, with often complex and multiple needs, compared to the alternative Jobcentre Plus ‘business as usual’ provision. The ‘business as usual’ approach consists of 88 minutes of work coach support time per year.

Greater Manchester launched its scheme in partnership with the Working Well (WW) work and health programme in January 2018. The programme aims to support the long-term unemployed and disabled people into sustainable employment across the city-region. First announced as part of the 2014 Devolution agreement (WW commenced in March 2014 and took referrals up to March 2016*), the region successfully negotiated for the opportunity to co-design, procure and deliver a localised version of the programme. As a result £52million was invested to support nearly 23,000 individuals across Greater Manchester between 2018 and 2024.

InWorkGM delivers the programme; an alliance partnership between Ingeus and The Growth Company, and also including specialist health, wellbeing and disability support organisations Pathways CIC and Pluss (an award-winning Social Enterprise that supports thousands of people with disabilities and other disadvantages move towards and into employment). Since clients can receive up to two years of support in finding a job and up to one year of in-work support, the ‘final’ cohort of starters will not all complete the programme until April 2019. This impact assessment only covers participants who joined the programme up until August 2015.

The Working Well Annual Report 2016, which provides an impact assessment of the early stages of the programme, noted that there had been marked improvements in the mental and physical health, qualification/skills and work experience of individuals on the programme for 18 months or more. For many people, it appeared to be three times more effective than the national offer.

The programme brings together expertise and local knowledge to include integrated health, skills and employment support, and offers all participants individually tailored and personalised support from their own dedicated key worker to support them on their journey back to work. With the aim of helping long-term claimants with health conditions into work, all participants in WW are claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). ESA is a benefit for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. Individuals in the ESA WRAG group are required to undertake work-related activities. This is because they are expected to be capable of work at some point in the future. These work-related activities do not include looking or applying for work. All WW participants have spent two years on the National Work Programme and failed to sustain an employment outcome. Each pilot participant is assigned to a key worker, who acts as a point of contact and coordinator for the support they need. The national Work Programme achieved 6% Job outcomes for ESA ex-incapacity benefit claimants on the programme between 2011 to 2017.

Something else we have become aware of is Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) which exists to create Disability Confident (another initiative) recruiters by raising awareness and removing barriers in order to help reduce the UK disability employment gap. It has one purpose: to break down the barriers faced by the millions of disabled people who are entering or progressing through the job market. Their Inclusion Calculator suggests that ‘ideally every workforce should include around twenty percent disabled people.’ and that ‘over half of workplaces are missing out because they are excluding disabled talent’.

There are nearly 12 million disabled people in the UK, but 79 percent do not have a job and there is a disability employment gap of around 30 percent, or just over two million people. The UK government aims to get over one million disabled people into work by 2020 in order to halve the gap**. More and more businesses are signing up to Disability Confident every week and the scheme helps them think differently about disability, and improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers.

We’re seeking to get involved with the scheme and programme in order to help people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (HoH) to find work in the Greater Manchester region. To assist with our work or to explore our insight and training, feel free to contact us at: or find us on social media.

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