Alok Sharma MP celebrates ‘Communities that Work’ with L&Q and GUAC

Alok Sharma MP celebrates ‘Communities that Work’ with L&Q and GUAC

The Minister of State for Employment, Alok Sharma MP, has shown his commitment to the housing sector’s employment support work by paying a visit to a housing association community hub.

Last week, The Minister visited L&Q‘s community hub ‘Starting Point’ in Barking. Alok Sharma MP was invited by Give Us a Chance, the leading consortium of social landlords who are rising to the challenge of helping people into work.

Minister of State for Employment, Alok Sharma MP, said: “I was really impressed with the work that was being undertaken to support people into employment. There are many examples of Jobcentres across the country where DWP work together with Housing Associations to support their tenants and wider community into work, and I want to consider what more we can do to work more closely together for the benefit of jobseekers.”

Starting Point is a community hub located in Barking, managed by L&Q. Starting Point was first launched in 2006 upon the completion of an L&Q development nearby. 

Since 2014, Starting Point has been home to L&Q’s Employment Support Team. The team has been providing a range of employment related services such as one-to-one support and help, drop-in sessions, training and screening with local employers.

David Montague, CEO of L&Q, said: “Starting Point is one of the jewels in our crown and we were very proud to take the Minister on a tour to meet staff and residents. We believe no one should be denied the opportunity to achieve their potential because of where they live and we are committed to helping people lead independent lives.”

The visit took place during Communities that Work week, which is the national awareness week to bring recognition that the housing sector deserves for the work that they do to support social housing tenants into long term and rewarding work.”

Lynsey Sweeney, Give us a Chance’s Managing Director commented: “I am delighted to welcome the Minister, Alok Sharma MP, during Communities that Work week. Give us a Chance, our members and the wider housing sector work hard to support tenants into rewarding employment. L&Q’s Starting Point is a perfect example of just that and we are proud to have showcased it to the Employment Minister during the national awareness week.”

The #CommunitiesThatWork campaign is in response to a research commissioned by Give us a Chance, led by the IPPR (2018). The report highlighted that unemployment amongst social housing tenants is far higher than the national average, and far outstrips any other UK tenancy breakdown:

  • Only four in 10 housing association tenants are in full-time work
  • Unemployment is twice the national average and economic inactivity is three times higher
  • One in three struggles to pay their rent and more than half rely on housing benefit

Importantly, the UK’s social housing sector is the largest private investor in tackling unemployment in the social housing sector, second only to the Department of Work and Pensions. Housing associations invest around £70m a year in employment and training support programmes — £60m of this is housing associations’ own funding.

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