Join us
Orange welcome sign that reads Royal Geographical Society with IBG.

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us

Research by geographers at the University of Sheffield has had a significant impact on priority health-related employment support policies at national, regional, and local levels across the UK.



Around 75% of unemployed individuals receiving benefits in the UK have health-related barriers to work and most wish to be in employment. Despite being a policy priority, this large group have suffered from markedly weaker outcomes and experiences within the UK’s employment support interventions for many decades.



Innovative statistical analyses have provided the first and most robust quantitative decimation of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) £3 billion Work Programme.

The research set out an original analytical framework and critical guidance for the rigorous design of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) models tailored to local contexts. Dr Adam Whitworth led the design of Sheffield City Region’s (SCR) modified IPS health-led employment trial (HLET), the world’s largest IPS trial (£20m, 15,000 service users).



The findings of this research were key to the DWP’s decision not to incorporate different payment groups and levels into the Work and Health Programme (WHP), Additionally, the research was key to persuading the DWP that secure up-front service fees of around £600 per customer needed to be included into WHP alongside its outcome-payments, unlike the predecessor Work Programme. 

The health-led employment trial has successfully transformed experiences and outcomes for this key cohort. As of October 2020, the HLET had supported 3,010 service users: 1,800 unemployed individuals, of whom 33% had successfully been supported into paid employment, and 1,210 employed individuals at risk of sickness absence, of whom 76% had successfully sustained their employment. The HLET’s 33% success rate compares to a 10% Jobcentre Plus.


Share this resource

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY NC 4.0), which permits use, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is cited and it is for non-commercial purposes. Please contact us for other uses.

How to cite

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Transforming health-related employment support across the UK​. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>