October 2012

The Work and Pensions Committee is launching an inquiry into how well the Work Programme is working for different user groups. The deadline for written submissions is 7 December 2012.

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals, including employment services providers (whether or not currently engaged in the Work Programme), and current or recent participants in the Work Programme, on any of the following issues:

Skills for Care, the Association of Directors of Adult Services (ADASS) and Learn to Care have come together to produce Better understanding of levels of support for individual employers and their personal assistants (PAs), a research report into what local authorities across England are doing to support people who employ personal assistants.

The report was commissioned to find out more about how local authorities support more than 170,000 individual employers and their personal assistants, who now make up around a fifth of the adult social care workforce.

The government has scrapped its target for councils to move all service users in the community on to personal budgets by April 2013. Care Minister, Norman Lamb, said he had agreed a new target of having 70% of users on personal budgets by the same date, following talks with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

Lamb said personal budgets were not suitable for everyone, but stressed that the 70% target was a staging post and should not be seen as a ceiling.

The Department of Health’s National Prospectus Grants Programme 2013-15 is now open to applications. Applicants are invited to submit proposals to improve outcomes for children, young people and families with a particular emphasis on early intervention and supporting the most disadvantaged.

The funding will provide up to £30 million for each year in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and projects will contribute to policy thinking and delivery on the ground to:
* promote excellence in early education and childcare, so enabling all children to achieve success in their early years and later education;

The Department of Health has published a circular that explains the revised charging arrangements for adult social care services, which should be applied from 29 October 2012. It covers the updated editions of the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG) and the Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other non-residential Social Services guidance:

Local Authority Circular (DH)(2012)3 http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/10/lac-fairercharging/

Dr Sam Bennett has been appointed the new Programme Director for Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) – the sector-wide Partnership taking forward work on personalising care and support. Sam, who is currently a Director at Groundswell Partnerships, will join TLAP before the end of the year.

The Welsh Assembly Government has launched its new mental health strategy, Together for Mental Health, which Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has promised will "tackle stigma" over mental health and give equal access from "cradle to grave" to vulnerable groups. The strategy is the first mental health and wellbeing strategy covering people of all ages and it aims for a seamless transition between children’s and adult services. It also looks to help tackle needs such as housing, debt, financial and social issues, all of which can impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Government has announced a 12 month extension to the Right to Control trailblazers. The draft regulations will be laid in Parliament in October, with the aim of bringing them into force on 12 December 2012.

Up to half a million disabled people and their families - including children and disabled adults living on their own - will be worse off under Universal Credit if current plans go ahead, finds an inquiry led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and supported by The Children’s Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK. Disabled people and their families warned that cuts to the child disability additions and to the Severe Disability Premium are likely to result in them struggling to pay for basic essentials such as food and heating.

7 out of 10 charity sub-contractors say that their Work Programme contracts are at risk of failure in a new report released by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The report found that 47% of respondents felt that their contacts were at risk of failure within the next six months and 26% thought they were at risk of failure before the end of the contract. The report also found that half of the charities (48%) were subsidising the delivery of the Work Programme from their own reserves.