If Government plans go ahead, it will be easier for ex-offenders to enter the mainstream workforce. Image courtesy of: Lusi/RGB Stock
The UK Government has announced plans for ex-offenders to receive specialist support to get them into the workplace when they complete their sentence.
Ministers said the aim was to help offenders get work as speedily as possible and to stop them from reoffending. Any appropriate benefit claims will be processed while inmates are in jail so they are able to join the Government’s Work Programme when they are released.
Official figures showed that almost 50 percent of ex-offenders were on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) two years after being released from prison in 2008.
Employment minister Chris Grayling commented: “Getting former offenders into work is absolutely crucial to tackling our crime challenge. The rate of reoffending in Britain is far too high and we have to reduce it.
“In the past we just sent people out on to the same streets where they offended in the first place with virtually no money and very little support. We’re now working to change that.”
Prisons minister Crispin Blunt said: “Getting ex-prisoners into work at the earliest opportunity will help them stop reoffending. Referring offenders to the Work Programme straight from custody will ensure that they get help and support to find work as they leave custody, when they are currently most likely to start reoffending.
“By enabling them to pay their own way sooner rather than later through immediate entry to the Work Programme, we will break the cycle of crime earlier for more offenders, which is in the interests of us all.”
Nacro’s Strategic Development Director, Graham Beech, commented: "Nacro welcomes any measures that help offenders get on the employment ladder. Getting a job dramatically reduces the risk of offending – by between a third and a half. But we know that offenders are eight times more likely to be unemployed than other people and it’s critical that we work to address this. The measures launched yesterday are an important step forward, moving people when they leave prison into employment and ultimately helping them to put their offending behind them."
He continued: "However, we need to remember that many people are not ready to enter the workplace immediately after they leave prison. They will need extra, specialist help in order to get onto the job ladder. This means giving people the chance to make the right choices at the prison gate: effective options to tackle their problems with alcohol and or drugs, to find and keep accommodation or to challenge the day-to-day problems that caused them to commit crime in the first place. If we address these other factors at the same time then we have a much better chance of keeping people in work and moving them on from crime.
"We are calling on the Government to ensure that the Work Programme recognises this and provides services that address the multiple barriers facing people coming out of prison so that, given time, they will be able to move away from crime, into gainful employment and make a positive contribution to the community."