We are delighted at the announcement on 22nd November by Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates of a £6.2m EU and Welsh Government funding boost for RCS to continue delivering the In Work Support service for another four years. A further £3.2m was awarded to Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU), which delivers the service in South Wales.
Mr Skates, speaking as guest of honour at an event to mark RCS’s decade of achievement at 1891 in Rhyl Pavilion, said: “The cost to the Welsh economy of work-related ill health is estimated at £500 million per annum and we know that SME employers and their employees are disproportionately affected by sickness absence at work.
“That is one of the reasons why our new Economic Contract encourages businesses to promote good health in the workplace.
“To further support this ambition I am pleased to announce an additional £9.4m for the In Work Support Programme. I hope this will help to prevent people with common health conditions from falling out of work, and will also encourage businesses to build healthier work places.”
Welcoming the funding Ali Thomas, Operational Director of RCS said: “We are delighted at the news of the service extension to December 2022, which will allow us to continue our work in supporting employees and business owners to create healthy, positive and productive workplaces.
“The In Work Support Service provides vital support to help keep employees in work in the face of individual health challenges, bringing enormous benefits both for employed and self-employed people and for the North Wales business community as a whole.”
The service was launched across Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey in 2015 and is aimed primarily at employees of small to medium sized businesses. It provides rapid work-focussed support and therapeutic interventions for mild to moderate mental and physical health conditions, in order to help employees return to work after sickness absence. It also supports businesses develop their strategies for reducing absenteeism and improving wellbeing in the workplace.
So far, RCS’s service has supported 3,400 employees to return to work or to full productivity and some 1,800 SMEs to reduce the business impact of sickness absence.
Across Wales the additional funding will significantly expand the service to support up to 12,000 people, and will support 2,500 businesses to build a healthy workplace. It is made of £2.2m of Welsh Government funding, and £7.2m of EU funding via the European Social Fund, under its West Wales and the Valleys programme.