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Participants are given the support they need through the Restart Scheme to find work

Articles 02 December 2022

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published its value for money report on the Restart Scheme.

It acknowledges that the Department for Work and Pensions established the scheme in a fast and practical timeframe. Providers also moved quickly to mobilise it ready for launch. The scheme was ready to support many of the earliest people who started claiming Universal Credit during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The report acknowledges that providers work intensively to support participants, identify their barriers to work and put in place additional structure to help them find employment. It is also highlighted by the NAO that providers have exceeded expectations on job outcomes.

There are a number of findings to consider going forward that can be used to shape thinking not just about the current delivery of the Restart Scheme, but also in the design and application of labour market activation programmes in the future.

Chris Harrison, employee owner and the Executive Director for the Seetec Group’s Employability and Health Business Area, said:

“The National Audit Office has set out a number of constructive findings and recommendations that look at how to build on the lessons learnt from the successful mobilisation and subsequent renegotiation of the Restart Scheme contract. It is important to remember that the Restart Scheme was mobilised during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognising the impact the strength of the partnership between the Department for Work and Pensions and prime providers had in delivering a hugely successful mobilisation is a key consideration too. The full extent of the economic shock was not known at the time, so the Government’s response and the actions taken by providers ensured more long-term Universal Credit claimants were, at the outset of delivery, able to seek sustainable employment at an unprecedented time. Job outcomes continue to be achieved in line with Government expectations. This is a clear indication of the benefit of putting in place large-scale labour market activation schemes to respond at a time of economic uncertainty.

“We look forward to engaging with the National Audit Office in the future to further demonstrate the effectiveness of the Restart Scheme, particularly as the programme is proving that the intensive support provided is delivering positive job outcomes.”