Economic Inactivity Strategy

Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning and Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment jointly launched an economic inactivity strategy called 'Enabling Success'. 

On 20 April 2015, the Ministers for Employment and Learning and Enterprise, Trade and Investment jointly launched Enabling Success, a strategy to tackle economic inactivity in Northern Ireland which runs at a higher level than anywhere else in the UK. The strategy aims to do this through skills, training, incentives and job creation. 

The Strategy was developed as a result of a consultation process with stakeholders and NICVA responded following a consultation event with the sector held in March 2014.

The overarching strategic goal is that by 2030, to contribute towards a stable and competitive employment rate in Northern Ireland which exceeds the United Kingdom average, through a reduction in the proportion of the working age population (16-64) classified as economically inactive. 

In the pursuit of this strategic goal, there are three strategic objectives that must be fulfilled:

Strategic objective 1: By 2030, to reduce through transitions into employment, the levels of economic inactivity due to work limiting health conditions or disabilities by a 25% reduction in the number of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (Work Related Activity Group) against the 2015 baseline position. 

Strategic objective 2: By 2030, to reduce through transitions into employment the levels of economic inactivity due to family commitments by a 25% reduction in the number of lone parents and carers claiming Income Support against the 2015 baseline position.

Strategic objective 3: By March 2017 to establish a robust baseline for numbers of people moving from work into economic inactivity due to health related issues and by 2030 to reduce the baseline figure by 20% through a reduction in the number of new claims to relevant health related social security benefits. 

Economic inactivity refers to individuals who are neither in work nor are actively seeking work but are available to start immediately. The report refers to the many reasons why people may be economically inactive such as those who are retired early, individuals with caring responsibilities, long term sick and disabled.

The target groups that the Strategy focuses on are the long terms and disabled (people with work limiting health conditions or disabilities who with the right level of support and reasonable accommodations from an employer should be able to work) and those with family committments (lone parents and carers who are currently in receipt of out of work benefits and would be better off in work but are unable to make the transition due to a lack of appropriate support and/or opportunities). The target groups account for 64,000 which equates to approximately 40% of all benefit claimants in the economically inactive groups and approximately 20% of the total working age economic inactivity figure in Northern Ireland. 

In order to meet the strategic objective included in the report, the Strategy idenitifes six themes which will be delivered through a series of cross departmental projects:

1) Improving engagement and support
2) Increasing employment opportunities
3) Addressing wider barriers
4) Breaking the cycle of inactivity
5) Partnership - Strategic Management
6) Improving information

The Strategy does not provide details on what funding will be available for projects but states that a number of projects will initially be piloted and will be initiated on a priority basis when adequate resources have been idenitifed on a cross-departmental basis. 

Click here to read the report in full. 



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