Employment Minister Tessa Jowell today announced more support to help offenders back into work. An investment of £3m over the next three years will help the transition from custody to work through improved links between prisons and the Employment Service.
This will make a difference because of evidence which shows that employment is a key factor in reducing the likelihood of re-offending. The new funding will guarantee soon to be released offenders are put in touch with Employment Service staff who can evaluate their needs and who will try to place them into a job or an education or training programme as quickly as possible.
Speaking at the National Association for Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) Annual General Meeting Ms Jowell said:
"Ex-offenders leaving prison without a job or accommodation are twice as likely to re-offend. At present 90% of ex-offenders leave prison without a job to go to.
"Encouraging ex-offenders into jobs or to take up further education or training is one of the best ways to reduce re-offending. Too often after release ex-offenders slip back into a life of crime, drugs and homelessness. We're determined to change this.
"We already have some of the building blocks in place. We have set up a partnership between the DfEE and the Prison Service to develop prison education. The Welfare to Work in Prisons programme is helping to focus offenders on the world of work and those leaving prisons get immediate access to the New Deal for Young People on release.
"We want to make sure prisoners on release move swiftly from `in prison' help into our employment measures. The new funding will allow the development of the New Jobseeker Interviews (NJI) which will ensure an offender gets access to benefit and begins to explore job opportunities and the help available through New Deal.
"These programmes will not only benefit the ex-offender but also the community as a whole. Government departments and the voluntary sector are working together to develop an approach to resettlement which focuses on individual needs and encourages the effective progression into jobs. Ultimately this means less crime and safer, more prosperous communities."