Altogether Better West Cheshire is one of four national Community Budget pilot areas testing new approaches to delivering public services. Its employment arm for work-ready individuals aims to bring different actors together to provide a co-ordinated approach to employment support.
There are some twelve main providers in West Cheshire of assessments, referrals and information for unemployed people. The new delivery model co-locates many of these services in three Work Zones, which offer a wraparound service delivering better service to users at a lower cost. A range of support is on offer at the Work Zones, ranging from Job Clubs and CV/interview advice to money management support and IT training. Between 2013 and July 2015, Work Zones had helped over 700 people back into work.
Since 2014, Altogether Better has also been running a pilot called First Steps Together, which aims to identify people at risk of becoming long-term unemployed (6 months+) on the day they first claim unemployment benefit. Altogether Better worked with Jobcentre Plus work coaches to design a qualitative tool. People found to be at risk are referred to the Work Zones, where they are linked to a work mentor who they see on a weekly basis. Participants develop a personalised support plan, receive IT training, can be referred to other support services, and can even go on a week-long outdoor personal development programme. The package also includes a discretionary personal allowance for things such as transport to and from interviews and interview clothes.
The results of the pilot are yet to be released.