DWP set to double number of work coaches as government prepares for Covid redundancies

Move set to be included in a package of measures announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak this week
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

By Richard Johnstone

06 Jul 2020

The Department for Work and Pensions is set to double the number of work coaches it employees in job centres to 27,000 as the government prepares to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was revealed at the weekend that the Treasury will provide an extra £800m this week for the Department for Work and Pensions to increase the number of coaches, who help people find employment through the DWP’s network of jobcentres, from around 13,500 to 27,000.

The first 4,500 new coaches are expected to be in place by October, with more to follow later in the year.

Economists have warned that the UK could face the worst unemployment crisis in a generation as the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, which is supporting the wages of more than 9 million workers, is wound down.

Work coaches are the first point of contact for benefit claimants and provide personalised support to Universal Credit and Job Seekers Allowance claimants. They work with jobseekers to make the most of their skills and put them in the best possible position to find a new role. According to the government, the one-to-one adviser support significantly reduces jobseekers’ barriers to work.

The announcement comes as the government begins to “gradually and safely” reopen from Monday, meaning jobseekers will again begin to see job centre staff face to face. Some sanctions will also be reintroduced.

The government also revealed that a joint unit to oversee the government’s employment support schemes had been formed by senior officials in the DWP and the Treasury, reporting to Sunak and work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey - to oversee the government's job support package and ensure its effective delivery.

The measures will be set out in a speech on Wednesday by Sunak, where he is also expected offer a £1,000 bonus to firms who take on young people as unpaid trainees in bid to prevent an unemployment crisis.

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