VSNW has conducted a survey of VCSE agencies to understand the strength of relationships between Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise groups and Jobcentres, particularly where health and work initiatives are involved.
The results show that although there is some activity between the two, this is limited in most areas, and it is never at a strategic level. The results also show divergent standards across localities, depending on individual relationships.
The five respondents unanimously agreed on three measures to improve joint working on health and work outcomes between Jobcentres and VCSE organisations:
- Co-working or co-location of Jobcentre Advisers with other community services
- New information standards to support monitoring of health and work issues
- More funding for specific VCSE-led services or initiatives to improve health and work together
The main barriers were mainly around Jobcentres having poor knowledge and understanding of VCSE services, and a lack of time and resources for both Jobcentres and VCSE organisations (shown below).
VSNW conducted the survey on behalf of DWP’s Joint Health and Work Unit, who were interested in Health and Care Strategic Partners’ views on how well Jobcentres are working with VCSE organisations.
Warren Escadale, VSNW’s Chief Executive, commented: “At present, it seems evident that Jobcentres are not making the most of the holistic support on offer in the voluntary sector for the unemployed. However, it’s pleasing to see unanimity on measures to address this: co-working, improved information for Jobcentre staff, and specific funding streams for joint health and work initiatives.”