Many people experiencing homelessness want to work but it is difficult to hold down a job without a stable roof over your head. However, many see working as the best way out of homelessness.
It is a longstanding aim of the benefits system to help people find work. But government support doesn't take account of homeless people's needs. It doesn't provide housing support or give people enough breathing space while they try to change their housing situation.
We are calling on the government to improve the support it provides to help homeless people find and hold onto jobs.
What needs to change
Across Great Britain we are calling on the government to:
- Improve the support they provide to help homeless people find and hold onto jobs.
- Reform Jobcentre Plus so it works together with homelessness services to help people back on their feet. Read more about Jobcentre Plus
In England and Wales we are calling on the government to make sure the new Work and Health Programme provides specialist support for people who are homeless. Read more about support in England and Wales
In Scotland we are calling on the government to make sure its new programme provides the specialist help that homeless people need. Read more about support in Scotland
Jobcentre Plus is the government’s service to help people on benefits find work. We are concerned that it provides a poor level of service to homeless people. Our clients tell us that work coaches often don’t realise they are homeless or that they have other issues which make it difficult to look for work or hold down a job.
However, Jobcentre Plus is changing. After several years of outsourcing contracts to private providers to help people find work, the government is bringing much of this back in-house. At the same time Jobcentre Plus is rolling out the government’s new benefit system, Universal Credit.
We are calling on the government to make the most of this opportunity to improve the service it provides to homeless people. We think a reformed Jobcentre Plus should work together with homelessness services to play a positive role in helping people back on their feet. This should include integrating housing and employment support in Jobcentre Plus for homeless people.
- Response to the Work, Health and Disability Green Paper (PDF) - February 2017
- Response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into the future of Jobcentre Plus (PDF) - April 2016
Read more about our work on Universal Credit.
Support outsourced to private providers
For the last few years the government has outsourced most of its support to help people who have been long-term unemployed. This includes the flagship Work Programme which ended in 2017. We raised strong concerns that the Work Programme didn't provide people experiencing homelessness with the support they really needed. The private companies running the programme often concentrated on simpler cases with better outcomes.
England and Wales
The government is now outsourcing less of this kind of support in England and Wales. However in 2017 a new Work and Health Programme was introduced for people with health conditions and disabilities. In some parts of England, it is run together with local government.
Many homeless people have mental or physical health problems so might qualify for support through this programme. We are calling on the government to make sure that this new programme provides specialist support for people who are homeless.
In Scotland the government has new powers over employment support. It has set up its own programme to support people into work from April 2018, called Fair Start Scotland. We are calling on the Scottish government to make sure that this programme provides the specialist help that homeless people need.
- Supporting homeless people into work: recommendations for the future of Government-led employment support (Word) - July 2016 (England and Wales)
- Response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into DWP’s contracted welfare-to-work provision (PDF) - August 2015 (GB)
- Dashed Lives, Hopes on Hold - 2013 (GB)
By law, people are required to meet certain conditions in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. Specifically they have to show that they are taking steps to find work or improving their chances of getting a job. If people don’t meet these conditions, the government can temporarily stop their benefits. This is called a sanction.
We are concerned that homeless people are being sanctioned more than other people making it even harder for them to find work.
Read more about our work on benefit sanctions.
Our employment services
Our services have a strong track record of helping homeless people find and hold onto jobs. It can be a difficult journey for someone. We know that it takes time, funding and highly skilled staff who are sensitive to the hopes and needs of every person they’re working with.
Based on our experience, we make reasonable suggestions to the government about how they can improve their own services to help homeless people into work.
Read more about how our employment services help homeless people. Read our latest impact report, visit our Skylight services or read University of York evaluations of our services in the knowledge hub.