Prison Leavers: Support into Employment

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 17th May 2021.

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Photo of Miriam Cates Miriam Cates Conservative, Penistone and Stocksbridge 2:36 pm, 17th May 2021

What steps her Department is taking to support prison leavers into employment.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We are committed to cross-Government working to help prison leavers into work and to reduce reoffending. In support of the Prime Minister’s crime and justice taskforce, we are funding an additional 30 prison work coaches, bringing the total up to 200, to go into prisons after covid restrictions are lifted with a focus on both gaining employment and accessing benefits promptly, to remove excuses for prison leavers to return immediately to crime.

Photo of Miriam Cates Miriam Cates Conservative, Penistone and Stocksbridge

Northern College in my constituency is a resident education college that gives disadvantaged adults a second chance at adult education. Many students are former prisoners, but thanks to the college’s outstanding tuition and pastoral support, they go on to achieve educational success and secure well-paid employment. Sadly, the funding for such colleges is under threat, so will my right hon. Friend work with colleagues in the Department for Education to secure the future of Northern College and ensure that former prisoners continue to have access to this amazing opportunity to turn their lives around?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important issue. I will absolutely share her concerns on the specific college to which she refers, Northern College. As I say, the Government are committed to helping ex-offenders to re-establish themselves back into the community and into work. As part of the Government taskforce, though, I am very keen to help prisoners get the right job skills while they are still in prison so they can walk straight out of prison into the world of work. However, the elements to which she refers will continue to be important in ensuring that people stay in jobs and succeed in jobs.