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Following early pre-market engagement and surveys, DWP announded that they had reviewed the timeline for applications to join the Employment & Health Related Services Umbrella Agreement (EHRSUA) and would be issuing two separate Invitations to Tender (ItT); one tender in respect of Tier One and Tier Two and a further tender for Tier Three, at a later date.

Special needs schools and colleges are invited to apply for grants of between £15,000 and £75,000 through the Wolfson Foundation's Funding for Special Schools and Colleges grants programme. The funding is available for projects that are focused towards helping pupils to develop skills which would help them to gain employment or live independently after leaving school or college.  

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson, has said that he wants to explore giving more autonomy to Jobcentre Plus work coaches so that they can allocate funding to commission local projects to help get people back into work. Speaking at a Westminster Business Forum event on disability in the workplace, he said that "we do need to look closely about moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach where people are sat round a circle and taught how to do a CV, and how to do their interview".

The Scotland Government has published an action plan for the future care and support of people living with neurological conditions.

The term ‘neurological conditions’ includes a wide range of conditions, disorders and syndromes affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.

DWP has written to contractors to remind them of their responsibility to pay subcontractors promptly. BASE has met recently with DWP Commercial and has agreed an ongoing dialogue about commissioning and provider management issues.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its latest report into Disability pay gaps in the UK: 2018 which has found that in 2018 the median pay for non-disabled workers was £12.11 an hour, against £10.63 for disabled workers.

Disabled employees with a mental impairment had the largest pay gap at 18.6%, while for those with a physical impairment the pay gap was 9.7% and those with other impairments had the narrowest gap, at 7.4%. Around a quarter of the difference in mean pay can be accounted for by factors such as occupation and qualification.

BASE held its annual conference in Manchester on 5-6 November. The event was attended by 160 people and featured a range of speakers and workshops. We're pleased with the feedback received and would like to thank all who contributred to making it such a success. The conference closed with a witty and insightful contribution from Francesca Martinez. Next year's conference has been announced and will be in Leicester on 11-12 November 2020.

The Education Committee has published its report on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. It doesn't pull any punches and makes a series of recommendations.

DWP has advertised details of a market engagement event on 30 October. This early engagement event means that a procurement idea is currently active and DWP is in the early stage of development and judging interest from potential suppliers. Though the event is advertised through the Employability and Health Related Services Umbrella Agreement, DWP have stressed that the opportunity is open to SMEs and the voluntary sector.

Statistical information has been published for the 2018-19 employment rates in England for people with a learning disability and for people using secondary mental health services. They show a mixed picture. Employment rates for people with a learning disability have been on a downward trend year on year [Indicator 1E] and now stand at 5.9%.

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