WorkWell Scheme: 15 Areas in England To Become Part of £64m Employee Support Scheme

In 2023, the Government announced plans to introduce a new employee support scheme called the ‘WorkWell scheme‘ to address the alarming rise in economic inactivity. This initiative was designed to assist individuals with long-term sickness in returning to work.

Recently, the Government disclosed the 15 areas leading the £64 million pilot. Through a collaborative effort, they aim to place approximately 59,000 individuals with various local services. The pilot, set to commence in October, will offer users access to support such as counselling and physiotherapy.

In this article, we highlight the 15 key areas that will pilot this plan. We also explore what service users can expect and provide a brief reminder about the scheme. We hope this article answers your questions.

Should you have any further inquiries or need assistance with an employment law issue, contact Redmans Solicitors now. We are employment law specialists and can provide advice following a quick consultation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today by:

Employee Support Scheme to be Rolled Out Across 15 Areas

On 7 May 2024, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) provided an update on the WorkWell scheme. They detailed how 15 areas will commence the employee support scheme pilot in October. The areas included within the £64 million plan are:

  1. Birmingham and Solihull
  2. Black Country
  3. Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire 
  4. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  5. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  6. Coventry and Warwickshire
  7. Frimley
  8. Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  9. Greater Manchester
  10. Lancashire and South Cumbria
  11. Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland
  12. North Central London
  13. North West London
  14. South Yorkshire
  15. Surrey Heartlands

This announcement follows the Prime Minister’s recent unveiling of extensive welfare reforms, including plans to end the ‘sick note culture’. It also forms an essential part of the Government’s £2.5 billion ‘Back to Work’ plan. If proven successful, the employee support scheme could be rolled out nationwide.

Matthew Taylor, the NHS Confederation’s chief executive, gave his thoughts on the news. He said, “It is fantastic that 15 ICSs can now start to get their WorkWell plans off the ground to provide more intensive, early-intervention support to their populations”. He explained that if people with poor health are provided the proper support, they could work and live fuller lives.

Navigating the WorkWell Scheme: A Service User’s Journey

In addition to identifying the areas that will initiate the employee support scheme pilot, the announcement detailed the potential journey of a service user. For example, consider an individual currently signed off from work due to chronic back pain and a mental health issue like depression. In this scenario, the person might be contemplating resignation, leaving them financially vulnerable.

Here, the individual could be referred to WorkWell by their GP or employer, or they could self-refer. Upon referral, they would first meet with a Work and Health Coach for a comprehensive assessment. The assessment would identify the health and social barriers preventing the individual from working before developing a tailored plan to overcome these obstacles.

Consequently, the individual would be directed to the appropriate services. In this scenario, this might include sessions with a physiotherapist and counsellor, followed by employment advice from an HR advisor. Furthermore, the individual may receive career training opportunities, financial advice, and support sessions to get back on their feet.

As a result, the individual could continue working while rehabilitating their back and addressing their depression. The support sessions could help them tackle loneliness, while the financial advice could prevent them from becoming vulnerable. Moreover, the training opportunities could allow them to explore different career options that provide greater fulfilment. To ensure effective progress, their Work and Health Coach would monitor their advancement regularly.

The Benefits and Impact of the Scheme

The employee support scheme was launched in November 2023. Its goal was to ensure that individuals with long-term sickness remain at work or return after rehabilitation.

As illustrated in a service user’s journey, the process begins with an assessment to uncover the obstacles preventing an individual from working. Once these barriers are identified, the scheme determines which local support services are needed. Examples of such services include occupational therapists, vocational rehabilitation professionals, and physiotherapists.

The WorkWell scheme was created in response to recent data highlighting the rise in economic inactivity. According to the Government, 11 million fit notes were issued just last year, with the majority indicating individuals were unable to work. This has contributed to the 2.8 million people currently not participating in the workforce.

Member of Parliament Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, provided further insight into the motivations behind the scheme. He explained, “Too many today are falling out of work in a spiral of sickness that harms their finances, their prospects, and ultimately their health”. He elaborated on how this service will integrate health and work advice locally to boost the economy and improve lives.

If you have any questions about employment law rights or entitlement to workplace support, contact us today. Redmans Solicitors has vast experience in the sector, enabling us to provide tailored specialist advice.

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