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In association with the Bloomfield Trust, the Employment and Enterprise team at National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a new employment programme, Autism at Work. The programme supports employers to promote job opportunities to autistic job seekers. It then supports applicants through the recruitment process and successful candidates to prepare for and succeed in their role. 

BASE member Ambitious About Autism has announced a pioneering partnership with Santander Universities UK and 17 high profile higher education institutions. Employers can join the programme for free to access autistic talent, training and support as well as salary costs fully funded by Santander Universities UK. 

Professionals can also register their autistic clients who have attended one of the partner universities. To find out eligibility for this unique and ground-breaking programme for autistic students and graduates, register your interest.

You can also follow them on social media via the following hashtags #SantanderUniEmployAutism #EmployAutism

The Department for Education has published apprenticeship statistics covering the full 2019-20 academic year (August 2019 to July 2020). They show a 46% decline in apprenticeship starts - 58,160 compared to 107,750 in 2018-19. This is unsurprising given the Covid-19 pandemic and there was a steep drop in starts from March 2020. There are encouraging signs that start numbers are picking up again now.

DWP has cconfirmed the organisations that have successfully tendered to be included in the Commercial Agreement for Employment and Health-Related Services (CAEHRS). The agreement goes live on 5 October and replaces the existing Umbrella Agreement.

In total DWP received submissions from 61 organisations with a total of 171 compliant submissions across the 7 regional lots. Overall this has resulted in a total of 28 organisations being awarded a place on CAEHRS, 21 of which have multiple places and 7 have single awards. DWP is able to offer further places should they become available.

DWP has revised the application and claims process for the use of Access to Work within Supported Internships and Traineeships. The changes are mainly due to DWP's security requirements and they now need a customer signature on the application and claims forms. Access to Work are also introducing a declaration letter that the customer must sign and return before claims are approved.

The National SEND Employment Forum (NSEF) has been successful in acquiring support from Imperial College, London to complete a piece of research on the quality and quantity of Supported Internships across the UK.  They are keen for Supported Internship providers to help them in their research. 

DWP has announced future changes to the way that Access to Work applications will be handled for Supported Internships and Traineeships. We expect the changes to come into force in early September and DWP have asked that applications are not submitted before then. BASE is working alongside the Department for Education and a group of providers to advise DWP on the proposed changes. We will be posting updates when we can but DWP has released the following text:

The government has published its intentions for a 10-year programme of change to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027. The DWP commissioning strategy sets out, through a series of high-level principles, how it will work with providers and partners to deliver high-performing welfare to work services which maximise outcomes for claimants and value for the taxpayer.

It is with great sadness that we heard that Mark Kilsby passed away this morning. We send our love and hugs to his partner, Julie Allan, who was with him when he died peacefully in a hospice in Cardiff. Mark had been ill for a few weeks and had spent some time in hospital.

Many organisations are seeking to get approved on DWP's Commercial Agreement for Employment and Health-Related Services (CAEHRS) and are seeking expressions of interest from potential supply chain partners. There are too many to list but they often advertise for partners through the Carley Consult website. 

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