A million unemployed people receiving no government help into work, councils warn

More than a million unemployed people are falling through cracks in national work schemes that are failing to reach some of the most vulnerable jobseekers, councils have warned. Latest employment figures released in December show that the number of unemployed people not claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has passed one million for the first time.

This means many of the hardest-to-reach jobseekers, such as young people or those with complex needs, are not receiving any government help into work. The challenge is growing rapidly, with a 28 per cent increase in the proportion of unemployed people not claiming benefits in the last 18 months.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils are being left to pick up the pieces to prevent more vulnerable people slipping further into long-term unemployment and disengagement.

A report published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), commissioned by the LGA, explores in detail how a sample of councils across the country have provided a safety net for their most vulnerable and hardest to reach residents.

Working with employers, charities and voluntary groups, schools, colleges and housing associations, local schemes have provided one-to-one mentoring, training, work placements and apprenticeships. Specialist advice and guidance also supported people's wider needs such as housing and childcare, critical to helping people get a job and keep it.

The schemes have had success with helping some of the hardest to reach residents into work, such as lone parents, ex-offenders and disabled people which has contributed to reductions in the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET), lower re-offending rates and less use of health and social services which helps save millions of pounds from the public purse.

LGA Chair Cllr David Sparks said:
"Unemployment is falling, but the headlines hide the plight of our most vulnerable residents who are falling through the cracks. Too many are let down by national job schemes which are unable to identify or help them because they have not signed on at their local Jobcentre Plus.

"Councils across the country are desperate to ensure no-one is left behind and have sought to support those being forgotten by these national services by using their local knowledge, expertise and connections with local organisations and services to target their hardest to reach residents.

"These successful schemes act as a vital safety net for people but are under real threat with local government funding cut by 40 per cent during the life of this Parliament and pressure on vital services continuing to grow.

"It will be our most vulnerable who will suffer unless government commits to devolving nationally-run education, skills and employment schemes to local areas able to join-up and target services so that our vulnerable people are not left behind.

"This would allow councils to reduce long-term unemployment by a third by the end of the next Parliament."

The NIESR report's lead author, Dr Heather Rolfe, said:
"Local authorities have a unique position in their communities, able to bring services together, forging partnerships and strengthening referral networks. It is through such work that they are able to help unemployed people who are beyond the reach of national programmes."

See more at on the LGA website.