The Learning and Work Institute carried out a review of best practice from similar programmes elsewhere, led workshops with officers and stakeholders, and carried out interviews with users. This fed into key recommendations for the implementation of a new supported employment pilot, including which target groups should be prioritised and what support is needed for them to progress into employment. The programme focused on people with learning disabilities. At present, the employment rate for people with learning disabilities in the borough is 2.6% and the target is to increase this to the London average, currently 5.2%.
This work has acted as a catalyst for Barking and Dagenham to successfully bid for £350k of funding from the Department of Work and Pensions to deliver a programme targeted at residents with learning disabilities, autism, or both. The Council has committed a further £150k, including a new specialist employer engagement function to identify, engage and support more employers to offer flexible and supported employment opportunities for those with disabilities. London Borough of Barking and Dagenham hope to expand this programme in the future and this work has provided a robust framework for exploring other approaches, including a whole-household employment support, working with debt services.