Long-term unemployment is damaging to individuals and communities, it affects mental and physical health, and holds back economic growth.

We want to help people into work and make sure that work pays. In return, people on out-of-work benefits need to take the opportunities available to them to move off benefits and into work.

Out of work older people can find it more difficult to get a job and they are more likely than younger people to remain unemployed for longer.


We are making a number of welfare to work reforms which aim to fight poverty, support the most vulnerable and help people break the cycle of benefit dependency.

Introducing measures to give Jobcentre Plus flexibility in helping people back to work

To help people get back into work we have introduced a series of measures to give Jobcentre Plus some choice over what support to offer to claimants in their area based on claimant and local labour market characteristics.

We are working with back to work service providers, local authorities, training providers and employers to find innovative ways to help people back to work.

Managing the Work Programme

We have introduced the Work Programme to replace a range of employment schemes, pilots and projects. It provides personalised support for claimants who need more help to find and stay in work.

We will pay back to work service providers according to the results they achieve. Their contracts will include incentives to support those who need more help to get into work than others, such as the long-term unemployed or disabled people.

Introducing Help to Work to support the long term unemployed

We have introduced Help to Work to help those who have completed the Work Programme but have still not been able to find employment.

Jobcentre Plus work coaches will work with individuals to understand their needs and tailor their back-to-work plans according to the particular barriers to work they may have.

Work coaches can refer claimants to 3 different types of intensive support:

  • extra intensive support from their Jobcentre Plus work coach and other local support, for example training schemes (Mandatory Intervention Regime)
  • attending the Jobcentre every day for 3 months to talk to their work coach about the job applications they have made (daily work search reviews)
  • a Community Work Placement for up to 6 months to gain work experience which will help improve their CV

Helping young people into work through the Youth Contract

The Wage Incentive was withdrawn 6 August 2014.

Work experience, sector-based work academies, work trials and Apprenticeships are all still available. Extra funding is being allocated for a range of initiatives that will be available over the next few months to further support young people in finding work.

We introduced a £1 billion Youth Contract in April 2012 to help young unemployed people get a job. The Youth Contract is a range of support to make it easier for businesses to give young unemployed people a job, training or work experience.

It will provide nearly half a million new opportunities for 18 to 24 year olds, including apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements.

We have published more information about the Youth Contract and helping young people into work.

Supporting disabled people who need more help to find and keep a job

We introduced ‘Work Choice’ in October 2010, a specialist employment programme for disabled people who need more help to find and keep a job.

We provide money through the ‘Access to Work’ scheme towards the extra costs that will help a disabled person do their job, beyond what it is reasonable for their employer to meet.

We published the disability and health employment strategy: the discussion so far on 17 December 2013. This sets out our proposals for improving employment support for disabled people and those with health conditions. We published an update on our progress in the disability and health employment strategy: 1 year on on 8 December 2014.

Co-ordinating the Health, Work and Wellbeing initiative

We co-ordinate the cross-government Health, Work and Wellbeing initiative that aims to:

  • improve the general health and wellbeing of the working-age population and reduce the number of days lost to sickness absence

  • support more people with health conditions to stay in work or enter employment

We are setting up a new Health and Work Service that will help people with a health condition stay in or return to work.

Helping older people who want to find work or stay in work

Working longer can have a positive impact on an individual’s savings for retirement, and also for the economy as a whole. We have introduced a range of measures to support older people in choosing to work longer. These include:

  • ending the Default Retirement Age so in most cases employers can no longer force employees to retire just because they reach the arbitrary age of 65
  • helping employers take on or keep on older workers with measures such as flexible working
  • changing legislation to protect people from age discrimination
  • changing the rules so people can access their pension pots more flexibly and potentially choose to phase their retirement more gradually

On Friday 13 June 2014 the we published Fuller Working Lives: a framework for action. This explains how working longer can benefit individuals, businesses, society and the economy and it sets out a number of new actions we will take to help people have fuller working lives.

We are working with employers and employers’ organisations to:

  • challenge outdated assumptions about older workers
  • improve the employment and retention of older workers as part of a mixed age workforce

We have published guidance, employer case studies and research to help support employers manage an ageing workforce.

We have been working with over 80 trade bodies and skills councils in 9 of the largest sectors to:

  • address specific issues in their sectors
  • provide guidance to employers on adopting flexible approaches to retirement and the benefits of employing and retaining older workers alongside younger workers

Introducing a new scheme for tax-free childcare for working families

Working families will be able to claim 20% of childcare costs up to £2,000 for each child under 12 under a new tax-free childcare scheme. Disabled children up to the age of 16 will also be eligible, in line with existing childcare rules.

The scheme will be phased in from autumn 2015 and will be open to almost 2 million families. It will be delivered by HMRC.

Supporting people with drug or alcohol dependency

Jobcentre Plus has a range of support for people with drug or alcohol dependency.

A Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant with drug or alcohol dependency can volunteer for the Work Programme after claiming for 13 weeks (instead of the usual 9 or 12 months). This is subject to the normal entry requirements, availability and the agreement of their adviser. If treatment commitments might affect a jobseeker’s availability for work, their adviser can take this into account when agreeing the steps they take to find work.

In England and Scotland, advisers can refer claimants whose dependency is a barrier to work for a voluntary discussion with a treatment provider. In Wales, they can refer claimants to the Peer Mentoring Scheme.

Read more about the government’s policy of reducing drugs misuse and dependence.

Sponsoring the Ethnic Minority Employment Stakeholder Group

We sponsor the Ethnic Minority Employment Stakeholder Group which advises the government on helping to make sure ethnic minorities don’t face disproportionate barriers to achievement in the labour market.


The government announced plans to improve the help and training we provide for people looking for work in the coalition agreement. This included:

  • replacing existing welfare to work programmes with a single programme to help all unemployed people get back to work
  • making sure that contracts with welfare to work providers are based more closely on the results they achieve in getting people back to work
  • helping unemployed people who want to become self-employed with support from business mentors and financial help
  • offering pre-employment training and work placements for unemployed people
  • developing local work clubs where unemployed people can share skills and make contacts

Introducing Universal Credit

We began introducing Universal Credit in 2013 for people who are looking for work or on a low income. Universal Credit brings together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment. It will help to smooth the transitions into and out of work and encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours by making sure work pays.

Reviewing specialist disability employment programmes

In December 2010, the Secretary of State asked Liz Sayce, the Chief Executive of RADAR, the UK’s largest disability campaigning organisation, to conduct an independent review of the government’s specialist disability employment programmes. An aim of the review was to examine how more disabled people could be helped into work within the available funding.

The findings of that review were published on 9 June 2011 in ‘Getting in, staying in and getting on’.

We published the government response to the review on 11 July 2011.

Welfare reform communications toolkit

Our welfare reform communications toolkit helps explain how DWP is changing the welfare system. It covers:

  • what we are changing
  • why we are making the changes
  • when we are making the changes

Who we’ve consulted

We ran discussions with potential suppliers of the Work Programme to propose and discuss ideas on specific areas from 19 July 2010 to 13 August 2010.

We sought views from customer representative organisations to help us develop the Work Programme from 16 September 2010 to 20 October 2010.

In December 2010, the Secretary of State asked Liz Sayce, the Chief Executive of RADAR, to conduct an independent review of the government’s specialist disability employment programmes.

We consulted on the recommendations in Liz Sayce’s review from 11 July 2011 to 17 October 2011. We published our response to the consultation on 7 March 2012.

We sought views on how we can help in-work Universal Credit claimants increase their earnings, develop skills and qualifications and achieve financial independence from 25 January 2013 to 25 March 2013.


We have published an equality impact assessment for the Work Programme.

We have conducted an equality impact assessment for work experience and a privacy impact assessment for work experience. The privacy impact assessment assesses the privacy risks to individuals in the collection, use and disclosure of information.