Budget response: Unlock Shared Prosperity Fund for vulnerable jobseekers
published on 8 Jul 2020
The Salvation Army welcomes the Government’s pledge in today’s budget to double the number of work coaches in jobcentres and offer more support for the under-25s.
However, the church and charity is warning that vulnerable job seekers such as those who lack computer skills or have mental health problems could be locked out of the job market for years.
This could be addressed by funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) particularly the £500m aimed at the most disadvantaged communities.
The scheme is the UK Government’s post-Brexit replacement for EU funding that supported the most deprived communities in the UK.
Without specialist support to help long term unemployed get back on the ladder, entire communities could be locked into a cycle of unemployment for generations.
When the furlough scheme ends, the expected surge in job seekers will push the more vulnerable even further to the back of the queue.
The Salvation Army specialises in helping the most vulnerable people find work through its Employment Plus service.
Rebecca Keating, director of Employment Plus at The Salvation Army, said:
“Doubling the number of jobcentre work coaches is a big step in the right direction and will help avoid the huge workloads that would mean people don’t get the assistance they need to find work.
“The Government must take urgent action to ensure economic recovery and support reaches everyone and money from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund can help that, particularly the £500m aimed at the most disadvantaged communities."
Rebecca added: “In Wales, one in four of The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus clients do not receive benefits, this funding is essential for Third Sector organisations working with the most disadvantaged and isolated members of our communities.The Government must also ensure there is consistent support for people who lack computer skills and the long-term unemployed so they aren’t left at the back of the queue due to the economic impact of the pandemic.”
The Salvation Army is calling for:
- Funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to be unlocked. The scheme is the UK Government’s post-Brexit replacement for EU funding that supported the most deprived communities in the UK.
- A regional rethink from Jobcentres on how to consistently deliver support to people who need help to improve their digital literacy and budgeting skills to prevent the newly unemployed falling into debt.
The Salvation Army is also calling for:
- An end to the five-week wait for a first payment of Universal Credit by changing advance payments into a one-off grant for all new claims.
- A rethink of DWP’s offer of support for people with mental and physical ill-health who are claiming Universal Credit so that their needs are met.