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Social work support for employment of people with learning disabilities: Findings from the English Jobs First demonstration sites

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article numberJSW 637224
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Social Work
Early online date17 Mar 2016
Accepted/In press31 Dec 2015
E-pub ahead of print17 Mar 2016
Published1 Mar 2017


King's Authors


This article brings together two key themes in recent public policy in England affecting social work practice: the value of having a paid job for social inclusion and increasing self-worth, and the personalisation of public services. The article draws on a mixed method evaluation of Jobs First, which was a government funded demonstration site project that aimed to show how personal budgets (a key mechanism for personalisation) could be used by people with learning disabilities, often with their families, to purchase employment support. The evaluation involved secondary analysis of case record data and 142 semi-structured interviews with a wide range of participants (we mainly draw on 79 interviews with professionals for this article). Jobs First is placed within the frame of Active Labour Market Policy (ALMP).
The attitudes of social workers to Jobs First were broadly positive, which was an important factor supporting employment outcomes. However, social workers’ involvement was often limited to a coordinating role, undertaking basic assessments linked to resource allocation and ensuring that support plans, which had often been developed by non-social work practitioners, were ‘signed off’ or agreed by the local authority.
The study points to important elements of the role of social workers in this new field of practice and explores potential tensions that might emerge. It highlights a continuing theme that social workers are playing more of a coordinating, managing role, rather than working directly with individuals to support their choices.

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