Why is it a priority?
There is a strong relationship between worklessness and ill health. Workless people are more likely to live in poverty leading to poorer life outcomes for individuals as well as entire families, particularly children. The longer a person suffers from worklessness the higher the chance of them developing mental health issues. Youth long-term worklessness is particularly harmful, because its impacts may continue over the rest of a person’s life. Lack of employment opportunities and poverty are two of the most important underlying determinants of poor health and health inequality.
The key workless groups in the Royal Borough of Greenwich are Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants, Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants and Lone Parents (LPs) claiming Income Support. In May 2015, 10.4% (18,880) of Greenwich residents were claiming out of work benefits, of which 11,540 were claiming ESA. RBG has one of the highest rates in London of people claiming ESA/Incapacity benefit and over 50% of ESA claimants in Greenwich have mental health problems or behaviour disorders as their primary condition. These groups are most economically disadvantaged and furthest from the labour market, additional support is therefore required to move them into sustained employment.
Relationship between health and worklessness
- Families have a less healthy diet eating less meat and fruit.
- GP consultancy rates and outpatient hospital visits increase substantially.
- Increasing rates of limiting long-term illness, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, mental ill health and mortality rates including suicide.
- Children in families with long-term unemployed parents have a higher prevalence of ill health and lower well-being than other children.
- Worklessness impacts on health behaviours, associated with increased smoking and alcohol consumption, decreased physical exercise and drug misuse.
- Across life course impact of worklessness is especially high when a young person becomes workless.
- Increased risk of depression and anxiety. Mental health problems considerably increase the risk of leaving employment compared to other health problems.
Reducing worklessness: Achievements to date
- 6,400 people helped into employment by Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB) since April 2012.
- 80% of regeneration jobs created over past 3 years went to local residents.
- Over 300 residents affected by the welfare reforms have been helped into work.
- 288 Residents have started a Greenwich Opportunities, Learning and Development (GOLD) placement: 70% of scheme leavers went into onward employment.
- Over 250 apprenticeship starts in the Borough in 2014-15.
What are the opportunities for improvement in Greenwich?
- Supporting people into work who are furthest from the labour market through local labour market programmes including linked to the Royal Greenwich regeneration programme; range of pathways to work through GLLaB included targeted programmes: Highways Improvement Local Labour (HILL) and GOLD programmes; wrap around services; childcare.
- Focus on person centred employment support particularly for those with mental health conditions.
- Addressing health as a barrier to employment through supporting people to manage their long term health conditions (diabetes, mental ill health, back & Joint pain etc.) and a focus on employment alongside health support programme for people in and out of work.
- Further support to helping people with disability enter the labour market and stay in work longer; this includes people with mental health problems and/or learning difficulties.
- Providing GPs with local information on levels and characteristics of worklessness and supporting them to improve mechanisms to enable them to make referrals to employment advice and welfare services.
- Making better use of mental health resources including more joint commissioning or collaboration of services to enhance value for money impact and ensure services are complementary and joined up.
- Support for small and medium enterprises to prevent people from becoming unemployed as a result of health conditions.
- Focusing on the quality of the employment offer e.g. through London Living Wage Employers, the London Healthy Workplace Charter.