increasing employability for homeless people but is no longer an option leading to build up of aspiration with no defined avenues to channel them.
We feel that if JCP were to adopt a key worker approach along the lines of voluntary sector agencies. We would advocate for specific skills sharing with the voluntary sector, with JCP staff gaining an understanding of the key worker role, and holistic approach via training and mentoring by appropriate voluntary sector organisations.
Making the language and terminology used more accessible would greatly help in minimising inadvertent fraud and/or non-adherence to rules with subsequent reduction in costs.
Currently access to certain options are blocked to many and there is inconsistent application of funding in relation to Community Care Grants etc. Access to beneficial components such as counselling via Pathways and FND, and certain financial benefits to being part of Progress2Work vary depending on eligibility and this is often on an individual agency or ad hoc basis. Greater access to all parts of the employability equation for all, in a way that is tailored for them from day 1 is required. The long term savings in terms of health, social well – being and a strong labour market would be the pay off.
The tax credits system is for many overly complicated in terms of form filling and the advantages taken away by the impact on other benefits income. The lack of a meaningful HB disregard and graduated taper of withdrawal means that the prospect of moving into the labour market is for some homeless people too risky a proposition, particularly if they are still vulnerably housed or in expensive supported accommodation necessary for their ongoing recovery.
The 16 hour rule also greatly works against those seeking to enhance employability via volunteering or education, and we would welcome revision of this.
Young people are also greatly disadvantaged under the current rules and this must be addressed if intergenerational employability is to be enhanced.
The system does need to be simplified and unified in the sense that different parts do not currently marry up causing unnecessary problems with a longer term financial cost. Community Care Grants, for example, do not always marry up with the payment on Housing Benefit on a new home. Homeless people are less likely to engage with the labour market until more stably housed because for many the actual move to be positively housed is fraught with difficulties thrown up by the current system. This can then lead to problems with tenancy sustainment which incurs substantial costs at financial and human level.
As previously stated the levels of literacy and skills attainment within the homeless population is not matched by ease of access to the current system. Where the “customer” is seemingly the person who has to drive and co-ordinate efforts between say, for example, JCP and HB the amount of bureaucratic procedures and forms and repetition of personal circumstances and history can be exceptionally off-putting leading to stress,