January 2013

Today, the Public Services (Social Value) Act comes into force. The new legislation requires local authorities and other commissioners, including housing associations, to consider the social impact of their public service contracts before they start the procurement process.

The Work and Pensions Committee heard evidence from a range of voluntary organisations today. The Committee is inquiring into the experience of different user groups.

Evidence was given by Duncan Shrubsole (Director of Policy and External Affairs, Crisis), Paul Anders (Senior Policy Officer, Drugscope), Sophie Corlett (Head of External Relations, Mind), Rob Trotte (Senior Research Officer & Public Policy Advisor, Scope), and Laura Dewar (Senior Policy & Parliamentary Officer, Single Parent Action Network). There were some excellent points made with MIND making the case for IPS provision.

Dorset Enterprise, a supported business managed by Bournemouth Council, is set to close in March making 23 disabled workers redundant. A last-ditch effort to save the jobs was turned down by councillors at a Council meeting.

The Panorama programme on disability and the Work Programme broadcast on 28th January will come as no surprise to thousands of disabled jobseekers in this country. It is clear that the programme is failing many disabled people. The recent data release from DWP showed that just over 1,000 of the 68,000 ESA claimants referred to the programme had sustained work for over 3 months. The Panorama programme highlighted how so many people considered by providers as too hard to help are `parked`; a euphemism for ignored and neglected.

DWP has published a statistical release that presents information on new claims for Employment and Support Allowance in Great Britain. It provides information on those claims where the claimant is assigned to either the Support Group or the Work Related Activity Group after their initial functional assessment, including those assigned to one of these groups following an appeal. http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2013/ESA_reasons_fo...

This call for ideas seeks views on how DWP can support people in work and in receipt of Universal Credit to help them increase their earnings, develop their skills and qualifications, and achieve financial independence. It also seeks views on how DWP could trial ideas that would support employers to promote training, development and progression opportunities for low paid employees who are claiming Universal Credit or tax credits, and have the potential to work more. Responses should be submitted by 25 March to uc.newapproaches@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

The Department for Education has published a discussion paper on traineeships and is inviting views. Traineeships are a proposed programme to help young people aged 16 to 24 to develop the skills they need to secure Apprenticeships and other sustainable employment. For those aged 16 to 19, Traineeships would fit within broader study programmes for young people. The DfE plans to introduce Traineeships from September 2013 alongside 16 to 19 study programmes. In January 2013, it published this discussion paper setting out initial proposals for a Traineeships programme.

We have new dates for regional meetings in the Midlands and the North East:

Midlands network
8 February (11am start)
Venue: The Pod, 1a Lamb Street, Coventry CV1 4AE

North East network
22 February (10am start)
County Hall, Durham

Also scheduled are the South West network which meets at the Pluss offices in Exeter EX2 8LB on 21 February.

We are expecting dates to be set shortly for the next network meetings in Wales and Scotland.

DWP has produced a guidance document for providers carrying out assessments for Personal Independence Payment. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/disability/personal-independence-payment/

The Education Select Committee has published its report into careers guidance for young people. The Committee warns that careers guidance services for young people have deteriorated and will continue to do so unless urgent steps are taken by the Government. There is a new statutory duty on schools to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for their pupils in years 9-11 from September 2012. The report states that: