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Working Well

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Working Well

We want a prosperous, self-reliant Greater Manchester with high employment and a wealth of job and training opportunities.

But unemployment has been a problem in the region for three decades. At the beginning of 2020, quarter of a million people in Greater Manchester claimed out-of-work benefits, with the number steadily increasing as a detrimental effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response Working Well, a family of services that embody Greater Manchester’s employment and health offer have been commissioned to support people experiencing or at risk of long-term unemployment. ‘Working Well’ refers to relationship of both employment and health and is grounded in the principles laid out in the Work, Health and Disability policy paper ‘Improving Lives’. In short ‘good work is good for your health’.

Since its inception in 2014, Working Well programmes have supported over 23,000 people to find employment, many of whom were not likely to move into work without specialist support (January 2023).


Established in 2014, the Working Well Pilot supported 5,000 people who were experiencing chronic/long term unemployment. They had been jobless for at least two years and had left the National Work Programme without finding a job.

As part of the 'Working Well' programme package, local services worked with expert agencies to deliver individual support, focusing on specific barriers to employment.

The programme combined physical and mental health support and advice on drug and alcohol problems, skills, education and housing. Each unemployed programme participant had their own keyworker (provided by The Big Life Group or Ingeus) to help them get the right support at the right time, keep them motivated, and develop their confidence and independence.

The support organisations were only fully paid when the programme participant had been in work for at least a year.

On the pilot over 600 people found work, many of which continued working for 12 months or more. Additional benefits, such as improved health and reduced antisocial behaviour, were also positive outcomes seen in the programme.


In November 2014, as part of a wider devolution agreement, we committed to expanding the current Working Well project from 5,000 to 50,000 people. We started by expanding the Working Well pilot to 15,000 more people. 

The same support was provided for more people, but this time to an improved standard. Using the lessons learnt from the initial Working Well project, the way different services work together to meet the precise needs of every person on the programme was altered to work in a more streamlined and efficient fashion. For example, new routes into the programme were introduced (such as recommendations from GPs).

The expansion’s keyworker provision was delivered by Ingeus and Growth Company (GC) with bespoke Working Well Mental Health Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) support provided by Greater Manchester West NHS Trust in the form of the Talking Therapies Service (TTS). TSS ended in late 2018 having supported 1,522 Expansion clients and a further 50 Pilot clients. A Skills for Employment service was also delivered by GC. 

The Working Well Expansion aimed to support 2,500 into work by December 2019. In fact, the programme achieved this 18 months earlier than expected reaching nearly 3,000 by December 2018. Helping our residents sustain this work for the long-term will be a sure sign that we are taking the right steps to a brighter future.

As with pilot, the expanded programme offered up to three years of support (including one year of in-work support). In total the programme supported 3,000 people into work.  

Work and Health Programme

Greater Manchester launched its Working Well: Work and Health Programme in January 2018. The programme aims to support the long term unemployed and people with health conditions or disabilities into sustainable employment across the city-region.

First announced as part of the 2014 Devolution agreement, Greater Manchester successfully negotiated for the opportunity to co-design, procure and deliver a localised version of the new Work and Health Programme. As a result, the £64 million programme will support nearly 28,500 individuals across Greater Manchester between 2018 and 2026.

InWorkGM deliver the programme across Greater Manchester; an alliance partnership between Ingeus and The Growth Company, and also including specialist health, wellbeing and disability support organisation Seetec Pluss.

The programme offers over 200 different health interventions through a keyworker-based delivery model.

Similar to the Working Well programmes that precede it, the programme brings together expertise and local knowledge to include integrated health, skills and employment support, and offers all participants individually tailored and personalised support from their own dedicated key worker to support them on their journey back to work.

Integration with local services is at the heart of the Working Well: Work and Health Programme. An Integration Coordinator in each of the ten boroughs across the region works closely with Local Authority leads and key partners to understand the needs of participants and maintain and create new partnerships with local providers or specialist organisations to ensure the right support is available at the right time.

Work and Health Programme Job Entry: Targeted Support (JETS)

As part of the devolved Working Well: Work and Health programme, Working Well: Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) began taking referrals from October 2020, and ran until April 2023, supporting nearly 20,000 Greater Manchester residents who had been claiming benefits for over 3 months within this time. The service aimed to support residents who were unemployed for 13 weeks and in receipt of benefits.

JETS was a light touch programme, with monthly interventions being primarily conducted remotely. Support was provided to its participants around CVs, job applications, identifying transferable skills, and confidence building, along with additional links and signposting to support around mental health, skills, and debt.

The primary focus was to support employability with a sector-based approach and response to local priorities. The programme provided fast-paced continuous support for a maximum of 182 days, aiming to get programme participants back into work within 6 weeks.

Early Help Programme

Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester NHS Integrated Care Partnership worked together to co-develop and commission the Working Well: Early Help programme.

The purpose of the Working Well: Early Help programme was to design and test an early intervention support system geared to support and advise individuals (with employment with health conditions or disabilities) who were at risk of falling out of work or were newly unemployed due to their health complications and/or disabilities.

The programme went live in March 2019 and ran until March 2022 and was delivered by MAXIMUS (UK) across all 10 localities. Working Well: Early Help was a unique service that did not have a national competitor. This is because it combined:

  • A health-led model focused on addressing health conditions and wider social determinants of health to enable individuals to move back into work.
  • The focus on early intervention to facilitate a quicker return to work and reduce the risk of long-term unemployment. The Flexible Test and Learn approach allowed the programme to respond to the newly unemployed who have been impacted by Covid-19 and poor health.
  • Rapid access to services (CBT and physiotherapy) for which there are long waiting times on the NHS.
  • Support for both SME employers and employees including advice and confidence building for programme participants to negotiate a return to work. The flexibility within the programme allowed for support to businesses impacted by Covid-19, such as care and the night-time economy, to be given.
  • A direct pathway for participating GP practices to refer in patients who are in receipt of a Fit Note to support a return to work.


Working Well: EnterprisingYou is a £7.5m test and learn pilot programme to support Greater Manchester residents who are self-employed or working within the gig economy. Part funded by the Department for Education; it is the only programme in England to support those working in the gig economy. Launched in February 2020, the programme will run to December 2023, aiming to support nearly 3,500 people over its lifetime.  It aims to support people who are self-employed to develop and sustain their business, increase their skills levels and raise their income potential. The programme is currently delivered by The Growth Company.

For individuals accessing the programme, the service provides tailored support from a business coach, alongside access to specialist advice and guidance, which includes help with managing personal finances, accessing legal advice, health and wellbeing support, careers advice and access to a peer-mentoring scheme. Free access to co-working space across Greater Manchester is also available for everyone on the programme should they need it, providing the opportunity for the use of office, meeting and networking space for those without their own dedicated premises.

All participants on the programme also have access to a wide range of fully funded training and development opportunities to support them to grow and develop their business. This could be anything from cyber security training to digital marketing, or an industry specific course that will help maximise their business potential.  Access to these training courses is bespoke based on their individual needs.

The Federation of Small Businesses has used Working Well: EnterprisingYou as a positive case study with recommendations to government that it continues and the programme is expanded nationally.

Find out more by visiting: Enterprising You (external website)

Specialist Employment Service

The employment rate of disabled people is one of the most significant inequalities in the UK today. Amongst these, people with learning disabilities and people with severe mental illness have the lowest employment rates. The employment rate of autistic adults is also low. People in these groups want to work and more could work with the right support. Access to suitable employment service provision in Greater Manchester is limited.

The Working Well: Specialist Employment Service (WW: SES) launched in August 2020 and has already seen strong engagement with many local authorities and mental health trusts. The service is currently provided by Pure Innovations in partnership with PossAbilities.

The £4.8m service brings together investment from the Mental Health Transformation Fund, the European Social Fund, and the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester with one Clinical Commissioning Group.

The WW: SES contract has two strands, Supported Employment, which provides employment support for people with a learning disability and/or autism, and Individual Placement and Support, which provides employment support to people with a severe mental illness. The offer is an evidence-based model designed to support people with complex disabilities and health needs access and sustain paid work in the open labour market.

WW: SES will provide access to specialist employment support for up to 1,500 residents by September 2024.

The model is a shift away from a ‘train and place’ model that focuses on job readiness, to a ‘place then train’ one that focuses on engagement with employers to make the job possible. Employer engagement and working with employers are critical components of Supported Employment and Individual Placement and Support models. 

Referral routes are as follows:

  • Supported Employment: Referrals through Adult Social Care Teams, Disability Employment Advisors at the Jobcentre Plus or SEND Education Providers
  • Individual Placement and Support: Referrals through Secondary Care Mental Health Teams


Annual Report 

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2022 (PDF, 1.4MB)

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2022 - Alternative format (ODT, 1.4MB)

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2020 (Sheffield Hallam University)

Evaluation of the Working Well Early Help Programme 2021 (PDF, 1.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2022 (PDF, 2.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2022 (ODT, 2.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2021 (Word, 3.4MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2020 (PDF, 2.4MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2019 (PDF, 3.1MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2018 (PDF, 2.2MB)

Working Well - Annual Report 2017 (PDF, 2.4MB)

Quarterly Brochures

Working Well Quarterly Brochure- June 2018 (PDF, 1.2MB)

Working Well Quarterly Brochure- August 2018 (PDF, 1.5MB)

Working Well Quarterly Brochure- December 2018 (PDF, 958KB)