Your Work, Your Way | CPAG

Your Work, Your Way

Your Work, Your Way is an innovative work support programme for potential second earners from low-income families, helping them overcome barriers to get into work and progress.

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Background

Mothers have been impacted particularly hard by the pandemic – IFS found that mothers are one and a half times more likely than fathers to have lost their job or quit since the lockdown.

Mothers typically do more childcare and face more barriers to work than fathers in couples. At a time of higher unemployment, they will find it harder to compete in the jobs market.

Work alone is not enough to escape poverty. Before the pandemic, more than 70 per cent of children living in poverty were in working families. In 27 per cent of households (5.5 million) there was a mix of at least one working and one workless adult. Child poverty reduces when a family is earning between them the equivalent of 1.5 salaries.

In couple families, if the second adult (usually the mum) works it is normally in low paid, local jobs to be near school for drop-offs and pick-ups and they often work below their skill level.

Quality work that can fit with other commitments is key to sustainable employment for single parents and mothers in couples. Having a supportive employer means that mothers are less likely to move jobs, but moving jobs is key to career progression. As well as a supportive employer, mothers need high quality, flexible work that is sustainable and allows them to achieve their long-term aspirations.

Project aims:
  • To tackle in-work poverty by developing a new approach to supporting mothers, including potential second earners in low-income families, into employment or self-employment and progression in work.

  • To pilot an innovative work support programme for potential second earners in couples in four very different areas: Bury, Coventry, Luton and Taunton Deane which include urban, town and rural economies.

  • In Bury and Taunton Deane we will be working with the Barclays ‘Thriving Local Economies’ project and in all areas where possible we will involve Barclays staff to help deliver mentoring and other support.
  • To learn lessons from the barriers to work faced by participants, including those on both Universal Credit and legacy benefits, and advocate for changes to government policy to support potential second earners into work.
The pilot will include:

A lead project worker will work with four coaches – one in each area – for 12 months during the second and third year of the project and a welfare rights adviser will provide independent advice and ‘better off calculations’.

Engaging with schools, childcare providers, local employers, training providers, Job Centres and Barclays Thriving Local Economies staff to attract participants and help deliver the jobs, training and support needed.

Building motivation and commitment to change by resolving ambivalence and tackling barriers to goals being met.

Providing practical support including welfare rights advice on income maximisation using better-off calculations and Barclays Lifeskills training materials, mentoring participants and supporting them with a personal budget of financial assistance for upfront childcare, skills training, travel or other costs, and organising risk-free work trials.

Evaluation:

We will work with an experienced evaluation partner to evaluate the experience of participants, coaches and employers. 

For the interim evaluation we will assess the proportion of participants successfully supported into work, the challenges they faced and how they were overcome.

The final evaluation will look at how many participants are still in employment, and how many have progressed in some way, the impact on participants’ finances and their ambitions for the future, understanding the major barriers, and which measures made the biggest impact.

Outcomes:
  • Through tailored support that meets their priorities, we aim to support a majority of participants in the pilot into appropriate and sustainable employment or to start self-employment, with further participants progressing in employment.
  • We would like to see DWP adopting or piloting CPAG’s work support programme on a larger scale.
  • We hope that any policy recommendations to break down barriers to employment or self-employment for parents in low-income families will be considered seriously and implemented.