BASE submits evidence to National Disability Strategy

BASE has submitted evidence to the Cabinet Office consultation on a National Disability Strategy. The Disability Unit announced the development of a strategy last April and established regional stakeholder networks to support this. Since then, it's been very quiet until a public survey was launched in mid-January to gather the experiences and opinions of disabled people.

The Disability Unit also announced that it would accept evidence from organisations with a closing date of 13 February if the evidence is to influence the development of the strategy. Organisations and individuals can still submit evidence until 23 April and anything received after 13 February will inform the delivery of the plans set out.

Our submission focuses on education transitions and employment support and is attached below.

 

Recommendations

Education

We recommend the following actions for the Department for Education and local authorities:

  • Promote the Local Offer with direct communication about it to all parents of disabled children in Year 1 of their education.
  • Ensure that EHC Plans remain active up to the age of 25 years, regardless of whether the young person is still in education or not.
  • Establish a programme of support to improve the quality of EHC Planning and to ensure that they adequately cover routes to achieving life outcomes.
  • Ensure that early years education engages with parents about their child’s future employment pathway.
  • Ensure that transition planning begins in Year 7 with vocational profiles built into EHC Plans.
  • Ensure that all schools develop employment pathways with a programme of external work tasters beginning in Year 9 and external work experience in Years 10 and 11.
  • Ensure that the school curriculum fully supports the acquisition of soft skills and the attainment of life outcomes.
  • Promote the Gatsby Benchmarks and support teachers to better understand the local labour market.
  • Provide easy to understand information about Supported Internships, Inclusive Apprenticeships and Traineeships and how they can be accessed locally.
  • Develop a defined standard for Supported Internships with an expectation that they should include a minimum of 20 hours per week within the workplace placement.
  • Financial incentives should be available to employers who recruit using Supported Internships.
  • Introduce a quality kitemark for providers of Supported Internships with a system for peer reviewing standards.
  • Introduce comprehensive tracking of employment outcomes and their sustainability over a 2 year period. 
  • Promote workforce development so that education-based job coaches are qualified in job coach techniques.

Employment

We recommend the following actions for the Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government and the Department of Health and Social Care:

  • ASCOF indicator 1E should be reviewed and simplified but we recommend that new indicators capture the employment rates of autistic people and all people with learning disabilities.
  • DWP should introduce match funding for locally delivered disability-specific Supported Employment programmes. 
  • Government should support quality assurance processes for the sector including the introduction of an industry quality kitemark.
  • DWP procurement should award tenders based on criteria which are weighted towards quality considerations rather than cost.
  • Government should consult more collaboratively with employers, disabled jobseekers and provider organisations on employment support measures.
  • There should be mandatory reporting of disability employment rates and pay gaps by Disability Confident employers. Disability Confident status should be monitored more rigorously by DWP.
  • DWP and DHSC should fund a programme of workforce development for Supported Employment practitioners.
  • DWP should simplify the Access to Work programme so that it is less bureaucratic and more responsive. An electronic portal should be introduced for applications and claims. DWP should consider passing funding and responsibility for Supported Internship Access to Work support to DfE.

Welfare Benefits

  • We recommend that an entitlement safety net be in place to encourage disabled people to try employment. This 104-week linking rule should ensure that previous benefit entitlement is quickly reinstated if the person’s work is not sustained, for any reason, beyond 2 years.
  • DWP should introduce clarity into guidance on Permitted Work and abolish the Supported Permitted Work category.