West Lancashire has been is included within the new round of Pathways to Work pilot initiative. The Department for Work & Pensions has allocated additional funding for the scheme that has allowed the expansion of the programme into 4 new areas.
The purpose of this groundbreaking initiative that has had a hugely positive impact in other pilot areas is to encourage people on Incapacity Benefit back into employment.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“It is excellent news West Lancashire is to be involved in this initiative. Pathways to Work gives people on Incapacity Benefit the support they need if they want to get back to work. It gives people a choice that perhaps they would not have had in the past. This initiative is a further example of the Labour Government’s commitment to opportunities for all by investing in people and communities”
“I hope those people in West Lancashire eligible for the programme can take advantage of the help, support and advice available to them.”
“I can imagine that returning to work can be a daunting prospect but a rewarding one. There are real benefits to be gained from working. I would encourage any person on Incapacity Benefit thinking about returning to work to consider the Pathways to Work initiative.”
Under the scheme new benefit claimants are assigned a skilled Personal Adviser for monthly work-focused interviews. They can be referred to NHS rehabilitation programmes and access training courses. This support is also available for those already on the benefit.
This is the first step in the expansion of Pathways to Work to a third of people on incapacity benefits as set out in the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget speech in December 2004. A further nine areas will run from next April and additional three in October 2006.