Better off in work

The words Renfrewshire Local Employability Partnership in blue and green colours above a white backdrop.
Published: 20/03/2023

(March 2023) Guest speaker from the first Place Forum, Ruth Cooper from Renfrewshire Council, shared their story of how they support children in poverty through services they provide for parental employment.

Employment is the primary route to move people out of poverty but it’s often a complex process. Family size, or having specific barriers to work, can make it more difficult to enter work. Childcare or dependent care can be costly and difficult to find, and low-income jobs might not work financially.

But work can be lifechanging too.

Being better off in work doesn’t just relate to being financially better off but being happier, more confident, having greater purpose and better health and wellbeing.

Place partnership

Renfrewshire Local Employability Partnership (LEP) are committed to working together to provide opportunities for local people to be better off in work.

The LEP consists of various council departments working to streamline services, identify gaps and design new approaches to support the expressed needs of clients. These council departments include Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Skills Development Scotland (SDS), West College Scotland, National Health Service (NHS), Engage Renfrewshire, Developing the Young Workforce West (DYW West) and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

The LEP have jointly developed a three year plan with shared objectives, joint actions, group targets and co-commissioned service to meet local needs.

The power of place in child poverty and cost of living crisis

In Renfrewshire our employability services are developed and delivered through the public, private and third sectors working together. We deliver services all over Renfrewshire and in the premises of local community organisations. The services are specific to Renfrewshire and respond to local data, local priorities, local people, existing local services and the local improvements we aim to achieve.

We have combined resources to create a joint brand (Renfrewshire Local Employability Partnership) with a sense of collective identity and purpose. Our collective efforts play a crucial role in addressing the needs and realising the full potential of people across communities.

Person centred support

A key element of support is a better off in work calculation. This looks at work options, finances and benefits, and offers reassurance on future income and support to secure the type of work, the hours of work and the pay required to make work pay for them.

People are at the centre of the services. Clients share their own experiences and barriers to work, and services are designed to overcome these. Services are holistic and based on the needs expressed by clients.

Some examples are:

  • It’s all so complex, there are so many services, I don’t know what to do.

A Key Worker will guide you through the services, the offers and the opportunities. Everything will be led by your needs. Your key worker will help you secure the type of work, the hours of work and the pay required to make work pay for you.

  • Don’t I lose my benefits if I work? I don’t know if I can afford to work.

You will get a better off in work calculation and this can be done for different options so that you can see the difference if you work part time or full time.

  • I really only want to work during school hours, additional childcare costs will be too much.

We talk to employers on your behalf and offer wage subsidies to create the right hours of work for you.

  • I’m worried about the initial working months. My benefits will stop, I need to pay for childcare, will I be able to feed my family? It seems like such a risk.

We offer a £1,000 transition fund to overcome those barriers and you can use it where you see fit.

There is an extensive range of employability support on offer to unemployed parents in Renfrewshire and flexibility to adapt the supports to fit differing needs of clients. Innovative and person-centred solutions have been developed to ensure that people locally can benefit from working.

Renfrewshire’s place-based approach to reducing child poverty through parental employment will support around 500 parents in 2023-24. The majority will be unemployed, but support is also provided to those in low paid employment.

A short video on some case studies related to our work.

Writer biography

Ruth Cooper is the Economic Development Manager at Renfrewshire Council, chair of the Renfrewshire Local Employability Partnership and chair of the Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development (SLAED) People Group.

Her career in Economic Development has spanned the Voluntary, FE/HE and Local Authority sectors with Employability, Enterprise, Skills and External Funding being a key feature of all roles.

Renfrewshire Council continue to prioritise employability as a key theme of council work and recognise the impact it has on communities, poverty and quality of life for individuals. Partnership is key across all service delivery and place shaping has been a theme for many years in both the Council and Community plans.

Images credited to Renfrewshire Council

The power of place in child poverty and cost of living crisis

Find out more about our first Place Forum event and hear about the power of place and collaboration in child poverty and cost of living crisis.

Read event outputs