Council bids for cash to boost employment for Hertfordshire residents with learning disabilities

The data was reported to a meeting of the county council’s adult care, health and wellbeing cabinet panel

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 10:48 am
Updated Thursday, 9th September 2021, 10:50 am

Plans for a £2.4m project to increase employment chances for people with learning disabilities have been highlighted to councillors.

Latest figures show that a very small proportion of residents with learning disabilities in Hertfordshire – just 6.3 per cent – are in paid employment.

And most of those who are are employed work for less than 10 hours a week – with 40 per cent working for just five or fewer hours.

Council bids for cash to boost employment for Hertfordshire residents with learning disabilities

The data was reported to a meeting of the county council’s adult care, health and wellbeing cabinet panel on Wednesday, September 8, as part of a package of performance measures.

And director of adult care services Chris Badger revealed the service had drawn up plans for a £2.4m project to improve opportunities.

At the meeting Mr Badger acknowledged that during the pandemic employment opportunities had been challenging and that people with learning difficulties – often with clinical vulnerabilities – may have had to be more careful.

But he revealed the county council had submitted a £1.4m bid to the European Social Fund (ESF) – which, if successful, would be matched by the council – in order to boost those employment opportunities.

As part of this ‘Inclusive Employment project, dedicated support would be provided through Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS).

And the service would support a large number of people with learning disabilities to develop the skills they would need for employment.

Expanding on the detail of the bid, assistant director or adult care services Jackie Albery said it would be a two-year project that would support 725 people into employment.

She said the council was hoping for a decision on the ESF bid in November – and that they hoped to start the two-year project in January.

But should the bid not be successful, she suggested that the project would still go ahead – although it would support fewer people.

And she said that moving out of the pandemic this was “a real opportunity” to support people with learning disabilities in to work.

At the meeting Cllr Colette Wyatt-Lowe said it sounded “very encouraging” – particularly pointing to the increase in job vacancies

According to the data reported to the cabinet panel, in the first three months of 2021/22 the county council supported 2952 adults with a learning disability with a long-term service.

Of those, says the report, 186 – that’s 6.3 per cent – were in paid employment.

The measure, says the report, is intended to improve the employment outcomes for adults with a primary support reason of learning disability.