Funding for disability employment support schemes being misdirected, finds study

Only a third of local authority and NHS funding for employment support schemes is spent on evidence-based services, researchers find

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The majority of council and NHS funding for schemes to support people with mental health needs or learning disabilities into employment is being invested in services that are not proven to work, a study has found.

Research by the national development team for inclusion (NDTi) found that only a third of employment support spending went on evidence-based programmes such as individual placement and support schemes for people with mental health needs.

Data obtained from the NDTi from NHS and local authority services in 83 parts of England also found that overall funding for employment support programmes had declined after a period of growth. The combined spend by agencies rose from £40.5m in 2010/11 to £43m in 2011/12 but dropped to £39.7m in 2012/13.

The study only looked at local authority and NHS funded services. It did not cover schemes funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Rob Greig, chief executive of the NDTi, said that local authority and NHS commissioners could achieve better outcomes by ensuring cash is invested in proven models.

“There is clear evidence that supporting people into paid work saves money both for local authorities and the taxpayer, provided that money is spent on evidence-based models. This research has shown that at the moment that isn’t happening so what local authorities can do is address that and potentially nearly triple the number of people they get into paid work without spending any more money,” he said.

The NDTi research also found that commissioners’ capacity to purchase effective employment schemes was “significantly undermined” by them not gathering and using detailed data on service outcomes.

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