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New inquiry: Work and Pensions Committee to examine case for devolution of employment support

7 March 2024

The Work and Pensions Committee is to examine whether the Government should devolve future responsibility for employment support from DWP to local areas, to help more people find and stay in work and benefit local businesses and communities.

The inquiry follows the Committee’s July 2023 report, where it recommended DWP devolve future employment support programmes to groups of local authorities, in order to make the most of local knowledge and expertise, to better tailor support to  individuals, and to help meet local vacancy needs.

The inquiry will look at the main opportunities and challenges associated with devolution of employment support, the role DWP would play in a more devolved system, how funding would be allocated to local areas, and the impact any change would have on employers, providers and people with additional needs.

Last year’s Plan for Jobs and employment support report also concluded that DWP’s role in both employment support and benefit administration, could deter some people from seeking support. The inquiry will consider how devolution might impact the relationship between jobseekers and DWP.

The Government’s response to the Committee‘s report highlighted how DWP was committed to trialling a more devolved approach to contracted employment programmes following deals with the Greater Manchester and West Midlands Combined Authorities. The inquiry will consider what lessons can be learnt from such trials and international experiences.

Chair's comment

Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“Our previous report set out potential benefits to individuals and businesses from devolving responsibility for employment support to groups of local authorities.  With economic inactivity still a major concern, our new inquiry will look in detail at how a system of devolved support can best be designed, examine the opportunities it could provide and consider how any challenges can be overcome.”

Call for evidence

The Committee is inviting written submissions in response to the following questions:

Opportunities and challenges

  • What is behind the UK’s decline in physical and mental health, and how does it vary region to region?
    • What opportunities and challenges might further devolving employment support provide for addressing this?
  • What are the main opportunities and challenges associated with further devolution of employment support?
    • What might be some of the unintended consequences of devolving employment support?
  • What impact could greater devolution of employment support have on the consistency and quality of scheme delivery? How could consistency be maintained across a more devolved system?
  • How might devolving employment support impact the relationship between jobseekers and DWP?


If employment support were to be further devolved:

  • Upon what basis should funding be allocated and why?
  • How should the boundaries of devolved areas be delineated?
  • How would a more devolved system function in rural areas?
  • What role should DWP play under a more devolved system? For example, in terms of setting objectives, providing oversight, sharing data and establishing a framework for local areas?
    • What balance should be struck between national employment support schemes and locally delivered schemes?

Jobs and providers

  • What impact might devolving employment support have on the success and quality of job matching? How might it affect jobseekers with additional needs, such as people with health conditions, disabilities, and hard to reach groups?
  • What impact would devolving employment support have on employers and providers?

Lessons learned

  • What lessons can be learned from employment schemes already devolved to local government?
  • Are there any international comparators the Committee should consider in our inquiry?

The deadline for submissions is Monday 8 April.

Further information

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