Chelsea Tierney beams as she talks about her new part-time job as a cleaner at Morrisons supermarket. “It’s really nice, I like it.
People are friendly – they’re lovely.”Struggling after the pandemic, 36-year-old Tierney had been out of work for more than five years when she was referred to a programme called Working Well, at its office in Bolton. “Covid hit and it knocked everyone’s confidence,” Tierney says. “It was awful.”Greater Manchester’s version of a nationwide scheme called Work and Health, the programme is delivered by two private sector providers in offices across the region.
In Bolton, it is run by Ingeus and offers tailored support for up to 15 months.“It’s took a while, because I started this about a year ago and it’s took all that time to build my confidence back up,” Tierney says.It is a programme that tries to address what ministers have identified as a huge problem holding back the UK economy: its army of missing workers, who are contributing to a labour shortage and helping drive up inflation.
Millions have left the workforce because of long-term health conditions or caring responsibilities – or simply because they have decided they can afford to retire early.With the work and pensions secretary, Mel Stride, expected to announce a package of policies alongside next week’s budget to tackle economic inactivity, Manchester’s politicians say devolution has allowed them to tailor Working Well to local needs.“You can have a much bigger impact by having that local flexibility and collaboration,” says Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury council and the combined authority’s policy lead on skills and employment.Read more on theguardian.com