COVENTRY’S ‘LIFELINE’ employment service for disabled and vulnerable people under threat of closure has won a further reprieve.
Coventry City Council announced today (Monday) that The Employment Support Service, TESS, will now have until April 2016 after councillors agreed to find funding for the service for a further three months.
The additional funding will allow the Council to finalise talks with other potential funders, partner agencies and other local authorities to support the service in the future.
TESS had previously been set to close entirely in March this year following Council cuts, but was granted a lifeline until December 31, 2015 following widespread protest across the city.
At the Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Employment meeting, Coun Kevin Maton, said the extension would allow more time for discussions into protecting the future of the valuable service which supports people with learning disabilities, autism, physical/sensory impairments and severe mental ill health into employment.
The report heard at the meeting recommended that councillors continue to provide a specialist employment service with the support of the Council, Jobcentre Plus, the voluntary sector and the local Clinical Commissioning Group.
Councillors also heard that by helping people into work, TESS reduces the financial strain on other Council areas, such as care services and allows people to contribute financially in the city and support local shops, jobs and services.
Arguing the move showed the Council listening and responding to people concerned about the threat to TESS, Coun Maton said: “We are facing severe financial pressures, but a service like TESS not only supports vulnerable people who need help, it allows the city to prosper as well and I’m confident we can find a way of continuing to give people the support they need to find work in Coventry.
“As a Council, we are committed to helping the most vulnerable people in our society, helping people into work and supporting local employers.”
TESS specialises in providing a range of individually tailored services to thousands of Coventrians with disablities, autism and special educational needs to help them gain and keep employment.
The service also works in partnership with employers, who also gain from the expertise and experience TESS can offer.
Working alongside Adult Social Care and Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust through the Job Shop and the Pod in Lamb Street, the trained staff help between 25 and 35 customers with severe mental ill health or learning disability into work each year and at any one time support over 100 more people in keeping their jobs.
And if TESS wasn’t there to help, disabled Coventrians would be forced to rely on national programmes, which are not considered as effective as the local service.