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Equal Access (2)

Partnership information


2 people


Employment levels have risen steadily in recent years. The employment rate has approached three-quarters of working-age people in recent years. Yet, with just over 70 percent of working age people in jobs, the employment rate in many urban areas is up to 15% behind the Scottish and British rates. The reason is in part the high levels on Incapacity Benefit compared to those registered unemployed, accounting for around 7% of the workforce, and at least double this rate among some urban areas. At least 1 in 3 people on Incapacity Benefit (IB) say they would like a job, but many are fearful of doing anything that will put their benefits at risk. Expectations of working are exceptionally low, reflecting the experience of claimants across the UK.

The UK government is seeking to address this problem through initiatives such as Pathways to Work and Welfare Benefit reform. However, local services with a clear understanding of the local labour market needs to form part of the solution to any labour market problem. The weight of evidence to date suggests that this group require a joined-up and individual intervention. It is important therefore to investigate alternatives to national initiatives that address all of the barriers this group face, responding from a unique local knowledge.


Equal Access aims to facilitate access to the labour market for disadvantaged and disengaged groups and in particular those experiencing ill-health as a barrier to work. The partnership is specifically seeking to remedy the widely accepted problem that there is still failure to implement integrated, people centred services.



Activity is focusing on the inter-relationship between health and employment, with three inter-linked themes:
  • Integration of Services (in particular health and employability services)
  • The role of the Case Manager (to operationalise service integration)
  • Service User Involvement (in employability services)

Target Groups

  • Long-term claimants on incapacity benefits
  • Unemployed with multiple barriers to work including ill-health



Round 1 to Round 2

The Partnership successfully delivered a range of innovative activities during Round 1 of the Equal Programme, covering 2002 – 2005, and is building on this experience during Round 2; particularly in benefiting from the strong strategic and policy links developed in the first Round. These strategic links will benefit the Round 2 partnership, which is focusing on the delivery of joined-up support services for long-term unemployed and incapacity benefit claimants; and making the strategic links between the key services required of clients with multiple barriers to work.

Transnational partnerships


Liam Meehan, North Lanarkshire Council,


Action 2: 30 June 2007
Action 3: 31 December 2007

Equal theme

Facilitating access


2 people

For both Equal Rounds North Lanarkshire Council has developed a partnership of both delivery and strategic partners. The Delivery Partners in EQUAL Access in Round 2 are drawn from across Scotland but activity is mainly focused on the urban post-industrial central belt including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. Activity is being delivered in deprived neighbourhoods within these areas, where there are high concentrations of poverty and ill health. Along with the Delivery Partners, the Equal Access Development Partnership has a number of strategic partners including Jobcentre Plus, Scottish Centre for Regeneration, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Executive. The Development Partnership aims to be a learning partnership, that shares and embeds its learning into mainstream agencies, thereby ensuring the dissemination of good practice. The balance of delivery and strategic partners provides a strong basis to achieve this aim.

Intended impact/ sustainability

The DP intends to reduce the number claiming both JSA and IB benefits within operating locations by improving the engagement of clients with health barriers to work and developing a clear and integrated employability pathway. By developing agreed referral networks and protocols with health and employability agencies the innovative inter-agency links will remain to support future benefit claimants’ progression to training and employment beyond the lifetime of Equal.

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Process X
Practice X X
Product X
Policy X
City Local Regional National European


Urban central belt of Scotland


Urban central belt of Scotland


Attendance at events will attract interested parties from right across Scotland. By monthly bulletin again covers this audience.


Urban central belt of Scotland


DP has Scottish Exec as partners, sponsors and on steering group. Policy makers on Employability framework also partners. Roll out of Pathways to work is influenced by DP

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