Jobcentres could become “hopelessly swamped” because of rising unemployment caused by the Covid-19 crisis, a new report warns.
The Salvation Army said there could be one work coach for hundreds of jobseekers as the newly unemployed try and access employment help.
Before the pandemic, jobcentres had one coach per 130 jobseekers, but with unemployment increasing, the church and charity warned this would change.
The report said work coaches were essential to helping long term unemployed people back into work and supporting people having to retrain or rethink their approach to job hunting as traditional industries close or change.
Rebecca Keating, director of employment services at The Salvation Army, said: “Not only is the pandemic reshaping how and where we work, but it is pushing us into recession.
“Jobcentres will find themselves with a new group of people faced with having to retrain, enter new industries or even just apply for a job for the first time in years.
“We know through one-to-one support, provided by The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus service, building up an individual relationship with a coach is how people who are long-term unemployed find work.
“Asking a work coach to have that personal knowledge of hundreds of people means that inevitably the harder to employ will end up at the bottom of the pile in favour those who are easier to help.
“Long-term unemployed people could be left with no help back into work and will feel the impact of the pandemic on their lives for many years to come.”
The charity said jobcentres could become “hopelessly swamped” unless action was taken, such as increasing the number of work coaches to reduce caseloads.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We have adapted our operations at pace as part of our unprecedented action to support vulnerable people at this time, including redeploying 10,000 staff to process more than 2.2 million new claims to Universal Credit.
“As we reopen our economy, we stand ready to reconfigure our services accordingly to ensure everyone gets the support they need and are working on plans across Government to deliver this.”