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Government set to double the number of work coaches in jobcentres by March 2021

08 July 2020

The Government has announced that it aims to double the number of work coaches in jobcentres by March 2021.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that “ramping up” jobcentre work coach capability was a “central pillar” of the Government’s “plan for recovery and revival, and announced that:

“We are doubling their number to 27,000 by March, with 4,500 of them due to be in post by October… Bringing in 13,500 new work coaches dedicated to helping people find work will have a huge impact.

Dr Coffey said of work coaches:

“They are the people who can see from a CV that someone can pivot from one struggling sector into another thriving one, who can tease out the great skills people have and can be used in a new role or career direction.

They are the people who can find jobseekers the right training opportunity so they can take the next step.”

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:

“An increase in the number of DWP work coaches is not in itself an answer to increasing the number of disabled people in employment.

The disability employment gap remains high, with disabled people having an employment rate that is around 30 percentage points lower than that of non-disabled people.  

It’s not clear how effective even a doubling work coach numbers will be given that more than four million people are now claiming universal credit and the workload that must create.

In addition, with Universal Credit the role of  Disability Employment Advisors (DEAs), specially trained to help disabled people to find suitable jobs, has been revised. Instead of being based in jobcentres and having a claimant caseload, they are all based ‘off site’ and provide ‘second tier’ support to work coaches.

It’s difficult to see how generic work coaches with limited knowledge of health and disability and the huge barriers disabled people face, ranging from inaccessible workplaces to employer attitudes, are as effective as on site DEA claimant support.

Lack of individual specialist employment support must be an even greater concern with the confirmed return of claimant conditionality and sanctions.

Under Universal Credit, new claimants even with a GP’s medical certificate are not accepted as having a limited capability for work until they have a work capability for work assessment several months later.

In the meantime, unless they agree a claimant commitment - setting out what they have agreed to do to prepare for and look for employment - with their work coach they cannot be paid benefit.

This can put some disabled people in the position of agreeing to a claimant commitment that is unreasonable and possibly harmful to their health. Or ‘failing to comply’ with a claimant commitment so resulting in a sanction which removes their Universal Credit payments.”

For more information, see It's key for jobcentres to help people back to their feet from gov.uk