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DWP employment support: The Restart Scheme 

Restart is one of a range of measures introduced by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to support people to get and keep a job in the wake of the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s labour market. It focuses on helping benefit claimants who are long-term unemployed by providing up to 12 months of “intensive and tailored support to over 1 million unemployed people”.  

Restart went live in July 2021 and operates across England and Wales. Under the scheme, people who receive benefits and are long-term unemployed may be referred to employment support providers contracted to provide support in that area. The amount of money the contractors receive depends largely on their success in getting people into sustained work. So long as some contractual service standards are met, providers are able to choose how best to support the participants. The scheme will be open for three years and has budgeted funding of £2.9 billion, making it the largest of DWP’s employment programmes. 

This value for money report will consider: 

  • The extent to which Restart has been set up to meet the needs of long-term claimants; 
  • The rationale behind the commercial approach taken for Restart, and the relationship between DWP and the employment support providers; and  
  • Performance of the scheme so far, analysing the evidence to date of the scheme’s initial impacts and the expected cost benefit analysis for the programme.