All offenders in custody in England and Wales have access to housing advice in preparation for their release. All prisons that release offenders provide advice and assistance (over 130 prisons) in seeking new accommodation for those offenders who are in housing need. Additionally, all offenders entering custody have their accommodation status assessed within the first four days of custody to signpost further assistance where necessary.
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) works in partnership with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Job Centre Plus (JCP), and is engaged with employers nationally, regionally, and locally to offer training and employment to offenders.
Job Centre Plus have employment and benefit advisers located in most prisons to provide prisoners with advice and information about employment opportunities available on release, and can arrange an appointment with a new claims adviser prior to release. Prisoners can also be fast tracked on to the New Deal employment programme.
NOMS recognises that it is more difficult for offenders to find employment if they have problems accessing accommodation and financial services. We are currently working with key stakeholders to explore and formally pilot initiatives such as accessing bank accounts whilst in custody, rent arrears payment schemes and preventing accommodation loss.
The Ministry of Justice also has established a corporate alliance of over 100 employers working to maximise employment opportunities for prisoners prior to and on release.