Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

ECC and our partners believe that every adult that wants to be employed should be given the opportunity to find and sustain employment.

Employment services are a non-statutory service aimed at improving outcomes and wellbeing for people. We believe that employment is a key enabler to supporting wellbeing and independence and can help people become less reliant on statutory health and social care services.

There is an abundance of research that describes the benefits of employment to health and wellbeing and the important role that employment plays in a meaningful life. Employment not only has financial benefits for the person, but enables people to develop their social contacts, build self-esteem and confidence. Adults with mental ill health or disabilities can suffer high rates of social isolation and unemployment that can hinder their recovery and progression and increase the risk of their health deteriorating.

Market Rating

The current rating for the market is adequate. We have some well performing services but there is more to develop in this area to meet our projected demand and aspirations for employment opportunities and progression through a career pathway for those in receipt of this support.

Market Quality Market Supply ECC Demand
Moderate Moderate High
Market Quality = Moderate Market Supply = Moderate ECC Demand = High
ECC Ambition Market Workforce Market Maturity
Increase Supply Moderate Evolving
ECC Ambition = Increase Supply Market Workforce = Moderate Market Maturity = Evolving

ECC rating of the market, assessed on the 31st August 2021


The inclusive employment market across Essex is growing. ECC externally commissions 2 direct services across MH and AWD to support people into employment directly and to sustain that employment. There are other services commissioned from different routes such as the Internal Targeted Employment Team and ACL which support people into the employment pathway in full or in part.


ECC Commissions several services to assist people to realise their ambitions in gaining and sustaining employment. The largest spend and volume is in the LIVE service delivered by ECL which has the most ambitious targets and is designed to help people out of day services for better outcomes and with the aim of reducing their commissioned care. There are also a number of providers in the day opportunities market who are offering part of the pathway to employment, e.g. training, CV writing, volunteering experience but these are fragmented, may not be connected to wider employment pathways at present, and can be of varying quality.

This is a developing market and there are other providers in London and the East of England who could deliver parts of the pathway if they move into the Essex area. ECC is investing in coordinating the vision and delivery and exploring grants and seed funding to create additional provision in the market for more job carving opportunities. ECC is also exploring opportunities to support progression for adults with disabilities within that employment.

Mental Health

The MH service is currently delivered by EPUT. It is delivered in two parts, the Individual Placements and Support (IPS) service is to support people with severe and enduring Mental Health needs to find employment and is one of the highest performing contracts nationally. The other part of the contract is focused on supporting people to retain their existing employment. The IPS service is required to be integrated into assessment and care management teams. Both parts of the contract support the ASCOF measures against which this contract performs very well.

This is a developing market and there are other providers in London and the East of England who could deliver parts of the pathway if they move into the Essex area. ECC is investing in coordinating the vision and delivery and exploring grants and seed funding to create additional provision in the market for more job carving opportunities and pilot schemes.

Essex ASC Market (AWD and MH)
No. Providers 2
No. Adults 1,380
Spend (Includes the full value of the LIVE contract which is split between supported employment and day opportunities) £12.13 Miliion

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of 30th September 2023.

ECC is moving closer to their ambitious vision of supported employment, highlighting it as a key strategic aim in transformation workstreams in all services for Adults with Disabilities and Mental Health. Targeted workstreams are in place with transitions services to support those exiting education to ensure that it is a clear consideration for the future. There is a need to better reflect the employment ambitions of people, and for people at all stages along their pathway.

Current provision is working effectively to deliver and is responsive to change and actively seeking continuous improvement.

ECC would like to see the employment ambition reflected more broadly in all of our services and to have better integration between the commissioned employment services and other services.

Covid had a mixed impact. In the first lockdown for some it was very difficult to progress work experience, job coaching and employment opportunities and there were others where the same support was able to be given virtually. In some areas there has been anxiety around moving to face to face experiences again since wave one.

However, the increase in digital applications and interviews was an example of what adults reflected was a positive change from the pandemic, and job vacancies have significantly increased in the employment market which has allowed for a significant increase in those adults progressing to paid employment in the last 6 months.

As people return to work, people with disabilities have told us that they are facing new challenges around appropriate reasonable adjustments and sustaining employment in the wake of continuous change.

Current market risks:

  • There is a challenge in the AWD market as providers are often small scale and would struggle to develop their services as quickly as we may like to meet demand. ECC at present is focussing on growth and coordination to maximise our opportunities.
  • Recruitment is challenging for the organisations delivering the service due to general market pressures as the employment market is so buoyant.
  • Demand for employment is difficult to forecast, there has long been a consideration that adults with disabilities would move into day opportunities or at best volunteering opportunities, so a cultural shift is being addressed with the future ambition.
  • Retention of employment is key to support adults in their role. The level of resource in this part of the pathway is not easy to define and is an ongoing consideration for sustainable employment opportunities.

Our current area of focus is:

  • Future design of contracts to look at gaps in the employment pathway
  • Maximisation of the LIVE contract to increase it’s ability to respond to demand levels
  • Continuation of the working groups to develop the most effective pathway for adults and minimise the risk of duplication
  • To grow the employment sectors offering jobs and the number of employers in these areas
  • To maximise the social value opportunity with ECC suppliers and Anchor Institutions for job creation
  • To explore innovative ways of supporting employers to provide inclusive and meaningful job opportunities offering progression and sustainability
Last updated: 31/05/2023