April 2018

The Minister for Disabled People has announced a new Tech Fund as part of Access to Work, offering employers significant savings on the cost of assistive technology. The announcement follows the Work and Pensions inquiry into assistive technology.

The cost of assistive technology required by disabled employees will now be waived for all employers under the new Tech Fund.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, said:

The Work and Pensions committee has called on the Government to do more to promote the use of assistive technology (AT) to help more disabled people into work. Its report says it can help to close the disability employment gap and improve national productivity.

The report details how the technology can greatly help the employment prospects of people currently claiming benefits, and help them to control their home environments when it is integrated with computers, phones and gadgets.

Government has launched a consultation about civil society, what is working well, and what the government can do to strengthen it further. It is looking for ideas on how government can work with and support civil society to:

The Education Committee has announced an inquiry into support for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following by 14 June 2018: 

BASE is launching a survey to gather the views and experiences of people using the Access to Work programme. There has been concern for some time about delays and bureaucratic requirements within the scheme. A couple of providers have told BASE that they have been asked to supply the employment contracts of individual staff members. The requirement for 3 quotes has long been a problem for employers and individuals who've sought support through the scheme and many taxi companies have refused to have anything to do with Access to Work because of payment delays.

The Work and Pensions Committee has announced a new inquiry into benefit sanctions: how they operate, recent developments, and what the evidence is that they work - either to deter non-compliant behaviour or to help achieve the policy objectives of getting people off benefits and into work.

The inquiry will look at recent sanctions policy developments, like the "yellow card" system which gives claimants 14 days to challenge a decision to impose a sanction before it is put into effect. The system was announced in late 2015 although there is still no date for introducing it.  

Southend Council is seeking expressions of interest from organisation to support them to promote supported internships and other preparation for employment activity for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. They are seeking support to set up and co-facilitate a local supported internship forum and help to deliver supported internships. There will be the opportunity to take advantage of job coach training (at no cost) to increase the expert pool of job coaches available to support young people with SEND on work placements.

There is growing concern at how the apprenticeship levy is operating as the number of starts continues to fall compared to pre-levy funding. In November 2017 there were 27,000 apprenticeship starts, compared to 41,600 starts at the same point in 2016/17.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority is consulting on the development of an Employer Charter. The SurveyMonkey consultation is open until 13 April.