Evaluation of the In Work Support Service


14 04 2023

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Explore the findings in our report


In June 2022, the Welsh Government appointed Learning and Work Institute to evaluate the latest phase of their In-Work Support Service (IWS). The evaluation started in July 2022 and was completed in October 2022. It follows an initial evaluation of IWS published in April 2019.The objectives were to tackle poverty and social exclusion through sustainable employment in parts of North and South Wales.

IWS took a preventative approach that was intended to curb job losses resulting from work-limiting health conditions or disabilities by early intervention. The operation supported and offered individuals rapid free access to a range of practical, personalised support and therapies to address personal barriers such as mental health issues and physical health symptoms related to muscle and joint pain which are impacting on their ability to work. IWS also provided enterprise support which consisted of free advice, guidance, training, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises based in the delivery areas to develop and implement a workplace health programme to promote workplace well-being.

The wider policy context has changed significantly since IWS started in 2015; The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s health and the labour market, and the subsequent cost of living crisis, meant that providing support for people with health conditions to return to and stay in work is an increasingly important part of the employability landscape.

Key findings:

  1. The service delivered significant and meaningful benefits for individual recipients of support, through the early intervention of physiotherapy and mental health pathways.
  2. The promotion of the service was a challenge; clear messaging is needed to ensure that it reaches individuals who will benefit from the service.
  3. A minority of individuals had required more sessions than the service was funded to deliver.
  4. The evidence illustrates effective practice with employers which raised awareness and understanding of workplace wellbeing, resulting in a more open and supportive organisational culture and a positive approach to health and wellbeing.
  5. The service was effective and promptly responded to the challenges that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, adopting a rapid change in delivery methods enabled the service to continue providing support throughout the period of restrictions.
  6. There were existing challenges around evidencing the eligibility and outcomes of the service.
Joshua Miles, Director for Wales at Learning and Work Institute says:
Around half of people economically inactive in Wales that want to work say they aren’t able to do so for health reasons. It is therefore critical that we help those that are currently in work to manage their health conditions to stay in work. Our research highlights how Welsh Government could succeed in scaling up its in-work support service by targeting the right people, supporting SMEs to engage on this issue and being flexible in its approach to delivery.”
In Work Support Service - L&W recommendations - Eng

Evaluation of the In Work Support Service - Executive Summary

Read the summary

Blog: Three key lessons in delivering an In-Work Support Service for Wales

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