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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.

https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/downloads/download/147/employer_...

Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has written to local authorities to give information about the transfer of funding for two Section 31 grants relating to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  This includes the Preparation for Employment Grant 2018.  The letter has been sent to all local authority Chief Executives, Directors of Children’s Services, Lead Members for Children and Chief Finance Officers in all local authorities.

The Work and Pensions Committee published its Seventh Report of Session 2016–17, Disability employment gap (HC 56) on 3 February 2017.

The Government’s response was received on 30 November 2017 and is attached. 

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/652/652...

The government has set out plans to help more disabled people into work over the next decade. Under 50% of people with a disability are in work compared with 80% of non-disabled people. These employment rates fall to just 5.8% for people with a learning disability.

We are expecting further investment in supported internships and Access to Work will be "significantly enhanced" over the coming year. The paper also points to "new targeted support for learning disabled social service users and secondary mental health support service users".

InWork GM, a new alliance partnership between the Manchester Growth Company and ingeus UK, has been chosen to deliver the Work and Health Programme in Greater Manchester.

A report Barriers to Work, commissioned by Inclusion London, has found evidence of significant problems with the Government’s disability employment support programme, Access to Work

The report recommends ways to improve Access to Work and reduce the adverse impacts that changes to the scheme are currently having on deaf and disabled people reliant on it to stay in employment. The recommendations have been put together and are supported by deaf and disabled people under the #StopChanges2AtW campaign.

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