Headlines: September 1st, 2005

There are early signs that the Government’s Key Worker Living Programme is helping to tackle the problems of recruitment and retention of key workers, such as teachers, nurses and police officers in some areas, according to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It has published “Key Worker Living Evaluation: Early Findings”, which show, too, that the programme offers good value for money for key workers.The report says that the majority of employers interviewed for the research thought the scheme was having a positive effect on improving their recruitment and retention as well as bringing improvements to their services in the medium and longer-term. The research is based on an analysis of monitoring data from so-called ‘zone agents’ and interviews with them and with employers and other stakeholders.

It found that the programme was well-targeted both in terms of employment sectors and geographical coverage. It is also seen as being efficiently administered through the one-stop-shop zone agent model, which was based on experience gained from the Starter Home Initiative. All those interviewed thought the Key Worker programme was an improvement on the Starter Home Initiative, particularly with its range and the level of support that was available.

These early findings also identify a need expressed by some employers for an extension to the eligibility criteria for Key Worker Living. This has already led to the ODPM widening the range of front line public sector workers applying for the programme from April next year where there is evidence of recruitment and retention problems.

Other research from the ODPM offers more evidence of the importance of housing in determining whether or not key workers stay in London and the South East, particularly remaining in their profession. More detailed information on the impact of the Key Worker programme will be published as the research continues, with the final report due in 2006.