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Movement Into Employment: Return on Investment Tool

Estimation of benefits from moving an individual from unemployment into sustainable employment

Addressing health-related worklessness has been a key Public Health England (PHE) priority for 2016/17. Work has been shown to improve the wellbeing of individuals, their families, and their communities from both an economic and a quality of life standpoint. Additionally, awareness around the potential detrimental effects of long-term worklessness, on both physical and mental health, is growing (Waddell and Burton, 20061). There is a significant body of evidence specifically on mental health, showing a decline due to unemployment.

This report accompanies the release of an economic tool. Optimity Advisors was commissioned to build the interactive tool to facilitate PHE’s aim of bringing health more into the agenda around employment, and vice versa, by helping to demonstrate – quantitatively – that health is an important factor in decisions around employment, and to support more integrated government commissioning of beneficial services. It also feeds directly into another of PHE’s key priorities – reducing health inequalities – given the intrinsic links between deprivation, employment status and health.

The tool itself allows local decision-makers to understand the health and financial impacts, for their local population, of getting people back to work, and can be customised in terms of population, mental health condition prevalence, and other variables. As a result of findings from the Rapid Evidence Review (RER), conducted in support of tool development, the tool focuses on the impact of the transition from unemployment to employment on mental health, not physical health. This is a consequence of available evidence predominantly showing the impact of employment on mental, not physical, health.

Note the results of this analysis apply only to those who are able to achieve sustainable employment either at baseline or with support. The analysis does not consider those unable to work due to the severity or circumstances of their health problem.

This tool has been developed to act as an aid to decision-makers, both for those who are considering implementing interventions in order to help people move from unemployment or economic inactivity to sustainable employment, and for those who are attempting to make the case for investment in this area. The model calculates the consequences of a person or person(s) returning to employment, providing the benefit side of the cost-benefit equation, and facilitating comparison against an intervention’s cost. The tool itself does not examine specific interventions aimed at getting people into sustainable employment, but allows users to enter the cost of supporting people into work if applicable.