Work Local: The Solent Jobs Programme

Work Local is the Local Government Association (LGA)’s positive vision for an integrated and devolved employment and skills service – bringing together information, advice and guidance alongside the delivery of employment, skills, apprenticeships and wider support for individuals and employers. This case study highlights how Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council worked together to implement a similar approach.

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Both Southampton and Portsmouth had over 16,000 people receiving Employment Support Allowance in the cities. Both cities also showed a tight labour market with a low unemployment rate, often making it harder for those who aren’t in work to find jobs. This presented an employment challenge for both areas, out of which the Solent Jobs Programme (SJP) was formed.

The SJP was part of the Portsmouth and Southampton City Deal agreement with national government. The programme was funded by the European Social Fund (50 per cent) and the City Deal matched the funds. The programme delivery in the two cities began in June 2016, before being rolled out to the wider Solent areas in August 2016. The programme ended in December 2018.

The aim

The programme aimed to provide employment related support to long term workless adults with disabilities and health conditions across the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area.  As well as supporting participants into work, it was intended to improve participants’ wellbeing and their self-efficacy where possible. The programme comprised:

  • intensive case management, skills and employability support
  • mental and physical health support
  • employment support and a subsidised job (known as a Transitional Employment Programme or TEP, which is based on an Intermediate Labour Market model). 

It aimed to promote partnership working and service integration in the Solent area, especially between employment and health services. It was focused on addressing local skills shortages and moving clients into the business growth sectors identified by the Solent LEP, where permanent jobs were expected to be more likely. It also aligned with the Government’s ‘Work and Health’ agenda, and commitment to reducing the disability employment gap.


Overall, 1153 people registered to take part in the Solent Jobs Programme between June 2016 and December 2018. This amounted to 42.5 per cent of those referred to the programme.

319 participants found work as a result of the programme. That is 28 per cent of participants who entered the programme. Just over 42 per cent of participants who entered employment through the programme, moved into employment within three months of joining (with 19 per cent in the first month, and 23 per cent between one and three months). Just over a fifth (21 per cent) secured employment having spent between three to six months on the programme. A quarter of participants (25 per cent) moved into employment after spending between six and nine months engaged on the programme and 12 per cent took between nine and 12 months. The average time taken to move into employment was five months.

People who registered experienced a range of barriers to employment, which often interacted with one another. This included long-term unemployment, a lack of qualifications, multiple health conditions and living in a workless household.

Many respondents spoke of their increased confidence as a result of being part of SJP. Reasons for this included having access to courses to help with factors such as motivation and anxiety and having opportunities to increasingly interact with new people (including their adviser and peers on different courses). Others attributed their increased confidence and motivation to their adviser’s passionate and encouraging nature.

793 businesses benefitted from support, around accessing an untapped pipeline of talent and gaining a better understanding of the labour market and how to support staff with health issues. Many employers, despite an initial reluctance to take part in a public sector programme were won over by the offer and recommended the scheme to other employers.

The results of the Cost benefit Analysis show that for every £1 of costs, the programme provided an estimated £1.76 of benefits. When sensitivity analyses were undertaken all the results for the benefit to cost ratios stayed above one and therefore, in all scenarios the benefits of the programme exceed its costs.

Sustaining the approach and lessons learned:

The Solent Jobs Programme has now ended but due to the success of the programme, the joint local authorities are open to doing something similar in the future and implementing the lessons learned from this programme.

A Solent Jobs Programme spokesperson said: “Local authorities are potentially well placed to co-ordinate and directly deliver programmes due to their wide networks and local accountability. Local authority teams often have strategic relationships with DWP and Jobcentre Plus, VCS organisations and wider health and family services. Local authority staff involved in overseeing or delivering employment provision could also make links with wider local authority teams where required.”