WorkWell - LSC selected as one of 15 pilot areas

Date posted: 8th May 2024

The government has earmarked 15 areas across England that will pilot the WorkWell scheme designed to help people with health conditions back into work.

Last year the chancellor announced plans to pilot a new WorkWell programme that would integrate employment and health support, in a bid to tackle rising economic inactivity.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today revealed the 15 areas that will become part of the £64m pilot, which from October will aim to connect an estimated 59,000 people to local support services such as physiotherapy and counselling.


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It said WorkWell will provide a single, joined-up assessment of an individuals’ ability to work with their condition or disability, and identify workplace adjustments or support that would enable them to stay in or return to work sooner, such as flexible working or the use of adaptive technology.

Participation in WorkWell will be voluntary. Individuals will be able to self-refer, but GPs, employers or community services will also be able to refer people to the service.

Participants will receive personalised support from a ‘work and health coach’, who will seek to understand the health and social barriers preventing them from working in order to develop a plan to overcome these issues.

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride said:

“We are rolling out the next generation of welfare reforms so that thousands more people can gain all the benefits work brings.

“Too many today are falling out of work in a spiral of sickness that harms their finances, their prospects and ultimately their health, where with the right workplace adjustments and help, this needn’t be the case.

“And so we have designed WorkWell, a groundbreaking new service, that will for the first time integrate health and work advice at the local level, as part of our plan to stem the flow into economic inactivity, grow the economy, and change lives for the better.”

The government recently revealed plans to overhaul the fit note system in England and move responsibility for assessing fitness to work away from GPs to specialist work and health professionals.

The 15 integrated care systems that will pilot the WorkWell service 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

Some of the areas have some of the highest numbers of fit notes issued to working-age people, including Greater Manchester and the Black Country, where a combined total of over one million fit notes were signed off last year, according to the DWP.

Fit note ‘trailblazers’ will be introduced in some of the WorkWell areas to ensure that people have a health conversation and are signposted to local employment support services if they are signed off work.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“It is fantastic that 15 ICSs [integrated care systems] can now start to get their WorkWell plans off the ground to provide more intensive, early-intervention support to their populations.

“ICS leaders know that with the right support, people living with poor health and long-term conditions can find that good quality work helps prevent them from becoming more unwell. This helps people to live a fuller life, which in turn reduces pressure on health services.

“While all 42 ICSs are already working incredibly hard to make progress on their fourth core purpose, to support the NHS in driving broader economic and social development, these pilots will offer joined-up work and health support and are a welcome opportunity to spur it on in some areas.”

However, Sandi Wassmer, CEO of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, had concerns about the voluntary nature of the scheme.

“It’s not mandatory for employers. It’s not a one–size–fits–all solution — it needs more nuance to recognise the different needs of organisations and individuals,” she said.

“We are concerned about the reforms to the welfare system. People still need to be supported, not penalised, while looking for work.”

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