February 2022

The Public Accounts Committee has published a report  following its inquiry in to the Kickstart programme.

In its report the committee says it supports the Department for Work and Pensions’ “intention of supporting young people into work at what was expected to be a downturn in employment opportunities” - but the £1.9 billion “emergency intervention” Kickstart scheme has supported far fewer young people than predicted, “early delivery was chaotic” and DWP “neglected to put in place basic management information that would be expected for a multi-billion-pound grant programme”.

The Department for Education has published details of engagement on a tender exercise for a programme to strengthen the delivery of Supported Internships. Supported Internships (SIs) are a work-based study programme for 16-24 year olds with SEND who have an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, who want to move into employment and who need extra support to do so. SIs are designed to equip young people with the skills they need to secure and sustain employment through learning in the workplace.

The DfE is considering its commissioning approach for the delivery of the 'Strengthening the Supported Internships Programme' contract. We want to build the capacity of the programme and are aiming to double the number of SIs from c.2,250 internship enrolments per annum to c.4,500 per annum by 2025. We anticipate awarding contracts up to a total maximum value of £8,000,000 including VAT:

The Government has published updated statistics on the employment status of disabled people. They show surprising increases to employment rates for people with learning difficulties, autism and mental health conditions. The figures below are taken from Table 8a of the data tables at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/the-employment-of-disabled-people-2021

The statistics in the report are based on 3 key data sources:

We are very pleased to announce the official launch of the Government Opportunities (GO) Scottish Public Procurement Online Conference, which will take place on 3rd March 2022.

Mencap has published a report about supported apprenticeships that argues for changes to the eligibility criteria. Mancap wants a cognitive assessment to replace the current requirement of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA).

Mencap surveyed apprenticeship employers and training providers to gauge their views on the minimum standard flexibilities for apprentices with a learning disability or learning difficulty (LDD).

The Government has published pre-launch guidance about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). 

This provides further information to local authorities and other partners across the United Kingdom on:

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) has published the Levelling Up White Paper. The White Paper aims to close the gap between rich and poor areas by 2030 through improving services such as education, broadband and transport. It sets out 12 ambitions covering a variety of themes where inequality is experienced across the country.

Global business collective, the Valuable 500, today announces new research showing that almost half of businesses believe that a key barrier to the recruitment and retention of disabled employees is the lack of candidates.

The Welsh Senedd is consulting on an updated strategic action plan for supporting people with a learning disability. We understand that the consultation closes at the end of February.

Cabinet Office has established a programme to encourage greater involvement form the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors within the delivery of Government contracts.