Nearly half (46 per cent) of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have mental health conditions while mental ill-health is estimated to cost taxpayers and businesses an £105bn a year in health and police services, welfare benefits and sickness absence.
Now new Government funding which will be shared between Blackpool, Greater Manchester, the North East Combined Authority and the West London Alliance will be used to test whether better co-ordination of mental health and employment services could help thousands of people find and stay in employment as well as improve their mental health.
Each of the pilots will test a number of different approaches, including:
- Key workers to help claimants create bespoke action plans, and coordinate existing local support services
- Support for new employees to make sure they can stay in work and cope with anxiety and other ongoing problems
- Training employment advisers to identify mental health problems and for GPs to recognise the importance of work in improving mental health
Cllr Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for urban regeneration, said: “The Government recognises that jobseekers who suffer from common mental ill-health conditions are often poorly served by existing employment initiatives.
“If left untreated, problems such as anxiety and depression and types of phobias can deteriorate and affect a person’s chances of getting a job or and keeping an existing job.
“This pilot funding will allow us to create a new team of experienced employment and health professionals who will provide co-ordinated support and test whether a more joined up approach can significantly improve both health recovery and employment prospects for more than 1,000 local residents.”
And Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The CCG is delighted to be a partner in this ground-breaking initiative. We face many challenges in the town including access to mental health services and talking therapies is a high priority for us.
“This pilot will test out new ways of supporting people into employment whilst offering them psychological support, which is key to recovery.
“It is an innovative approach to improving the lives of Blackpool people and their families.”
Blackpool will receive £1.1m from the Public Sector Transformation Network to implement a two year pilot worth around £2m in total.
The pilot will involve close partnership working between Blackpool Council, NHS Blackpool CCG, and Jobcentre Plus.
For further information on the pilot, organisations can contact Peter Legg on 477333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org