A Westminster City Council service set up one year ago to provide free help in preparing for and finding work to young, disabled and long-term unemployed residents announced that it has helped 908 local people, 392 of whom were unemployed for over one year, into work.
The Westminster Employment Service (WES) works alongside local charities, JobCentre Plus and local firms to deliver training, advice and practical help with finding a job. Over 100 local employers including Veolia, McDonalds, Continental Landscapes, Wilmott Dixon, Berkeley Homes and Residential Management Group have partnered with the scheme.
Westminster Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Education and Community Cllr David Harvey said:
“The Westminster Employment Service was set up to transform lives and help those most in need. After one year, the evidence is clear that it is delivering on this promise, and helping us in our objective of building a city for all. Although the service is not a statutory function for the Council, I am happy to confirm that the WES will remain at the heart of what we do and extend its reach into our communities.”
Speaking at an event celebrating the first anniversary of the service today, Councillor Harvey pledged to build on its success by:
Launching a new pre-employment and in-work training programme in partnership with local employers and the Westminster Adult Education Service.
Increasing the support available for residents with mental health illnesses by expanding an existing NHS team to offer employment support in GP surgeries and community settings.
Working with local charities and employers to design a package of activities to help residents on low pay to stay in work.
Cllr Harvey also stressed the value to communities, employers and the Council itself of recruiting locally. He said:
“By working with local employers to deliver training and jobs to people who most need it, we are helping them recruit a more diverse, local workforce. And as a major employer, we are committed to doing more to help residents access work within the Council and throughout our supply chains. Recruiting local people will help us design services attuned to the needs of our many neighbourhoods and communities.”
The WES has to date helped more than 30 local residents with health conditions and disabilities into work within Westminster City Council.
The Service is delivered by a team of over 35 employment coaches providing one-to-one support to residents in their communities – specifically in Church Street, at Maida Vale and in Marylebone. Its coaches work alongside the Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), Recruit London and a wide range of local charities, colleges and other public agencies.
Recent analysis of one of a WES coaching services for residents in temporary accommodation showed that clients supported are three times as likely to be in work, will earn £1,000 more and have £300 less rent arrears than comparable Westminster residents not engaged in the project.
The WES & Recruit London teams have helped Westminster employers save over £500k in recruitment costs. Since October 2017, all businesses applying for rate relief have been asked to set out how they can help residents, generating over 100 referrals with commitments ranging from offering work placements to promoting local vacancies and hiring local apprentices.
To ensure the service is delivered at minimal cost to council tax payers, WES has secured over £2.5m of external funding to support delivery in future years.