£8.4m funding to launch Thrive Into Work in the West Midlands

Government minister Sarah Newton MP has announced up to £8.4 million funding to West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for a trial aiming to help people with long-term physical and mental health conditions into work.

Thrive Into Work will see individual placement and support (IPS) specialists placed in GP surgeries and health and community settings across the region.

Under this research trial they will work with primary and community health teams to integrate employment support and health services and identify suitable jobs for people.

They work on a place-and-train basis – putting people into work first and supporting them in the first few months.

Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, unveiled the scheme at Birmingham City Football Club today (Thursday July 5) – as well as revealing her grandfather, Ken Tewkesbury, played for the club as a goalkeeper in the early 1930s.

She said: “We’re celebrating 70 years of both the NHS and the welfare state this year, so I’m particularly pleased to see health and work coming together through Thrive into Work.

“We’re committed to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027, and schemes like Thrive into Work can play a vital role in supporting people to move closer to work and opening up opportunities.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and WMCA portfolio holder for finance and investment, said: “I’m delighted the government has chosen the West Midlands for this major investment in tackling unemployment for those with health conditions.

“Thrive Into Work shows how we are transforming public services by bringing together health teams with employment advisers to deliver real results for people in the region.”

Sean Russell, implementation director for the WMCA Mental Health Commission, said there were at least 125,000 people in the West Midlands out of work with a disability or health issue.

Most were due to a mental health problem or a musculoskeletal condition such as back pain.

“Appropriate and fulfilling work can help people recover more rapidly and effectively or find new ways to manage their health condition,” he said.

“If they can work it helps boost self-esteem, as well as giving financial independence, building social connections and support networks – it is a pool of undoubted talent and enthusiasm just waiting to be tapped.”

Thrive into Work is a collaboration between WMCA, NHS England, the Department of Work & Pensions, and the Department of Health and Social Care.

The initiative is the first primary and community based IPS trial of its nature and size in the world – there have been IPS trials previously but only in a secondary care environment.

The funding comes from the Government’s Work and Health Unit Innovation Fund.

The Innovation Fund focuses on initiatives which will help to build a comprehensive evidence base about what works to support people with disabilities and long-term health conditions to get into and remain in work.

Government figures show there are 4.6 million working age people with a long term health condition or disability in the UK who are not in work.

Evidence suggests that as many as 90% of workless people who use mental health services would like to work. However only 44% of those with a mental health condition are employed.

The cost of poor mental health to government is between £24 billion and £27 billion. This includes costs in providing benefits, falls in tax revenue and costs to the NHS.

PICTURE CAPTION: Cllr Izzi Seccombe, left, Sarah Norman MP, Sean Russell, chief executive of Dudley Council and lead for health and wellbeing, and Anita Holbrook, IPS Thrive Into Work strategic programme lead.

FOR VIDEO:  Go to the WMCA Twitter account @WestMids_CA and search for #ThriveIntoWork

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