March 2017

March 27 to April 2 is World Autism Awareness Week. 1 in 100 children in the UK have an autistic spectrum condition – that’s 8,000 school leavers each year. But less than 25% go on to further or higher education, only 16% of all adults with autism work and just 4% live independently. Something clearly needs to change.

DWP has released the third Q&A Briefing for the DWP Local Supported Employment proof of concept. This is the final briefing to be issued.

Expressions of interest close on 27 March.


March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. 


In a response from Government to the Work and Pensions Committee,  DWP downplays the impact of the problems in the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) on claimants and local councils, claiming that rent arrears associated with UC “are likely to be of a short duration” and “should not present an insurmountable obstacle to landlords”. This is despite its own analysts urging caution about drawing conclusions from historic data, based on a small number of cases.  The Government was unable to provide any of the basic, up-to-date, specific data that the Committee asked for.

Rob Grieg, Chief Executive of the National Development Team for Inclusion, has written a blog for the Guardian about Rosa Monckton's proposal that people with a learning disability might be paid at less than the national minimum wage. We fully support his views which are reproduced below.


Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, has announced a £215 million funding boost to transform the lives of thousands of children with special educational needs and disabilities, by increasing school capacity and making it easier for them to access good school places.

Every local council’s allocation is at least £500,000 to enable them to expand and improve their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision, with more than half receiving at least £1 million.

The Merlin Standard is currently undergoing a refresh, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.  To aid the refresh, a consultation has been planned for stakeholders to provide feedback on the content of the Standard as well as user experiences relating to Merlin. Any comments should be sent to by 5th April 2017.

Together for Short Lives is launching a ground-breaking new Transition Awards Programme to fund innovative transition projects. There is an urgent need for new initiatives to transform the experience of young people with life-limiting conditions as they move from children's to adult services.

Gateshead Council is looking for a training provider who can teach its staff to assist people with learning disabilities into work in a hands on practical way. It aims to do this through the use of an accredited Training in Systematic Instruction (TSI) provider. Interested parties should express interest before 9 March.

Further information is at