Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week runs from 19 to 25 of March. This year’s theme is “What I Bring To My Community” and BASE member, WorkFit, will be playing an important role in the week.

The Work and Pensions Committee is looking at the future of the European Social Fund within the context of Brexit. A one-off oral evidence session was held on 28 February and participants discussed a wide range of issues including the demographic and geographic targeting of funds, how support is commissioned and linkages to wider policy initiatives. The hearing also discussed the level of flexibility and bureaucracy within the administration of the European Social Fund.

Microsoft have produced a website showing their journey towards a more inclusive workforce. The website describes the measures taken to introduce more inclusive recruitment practices within the company.

You can view the site at


The Work and Pensions Committee has published its report looking into how PIP (Personal Independence Payments) and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) assessments are conducted. The report says public contract failures have led to a loss of trust that risks undermining the operation of major disability benefits.

The decision to contract out PIP and ESA assessments in the first instance was taken to introduce efficient, consistent and objective tests for benefit eligibility. 

NHS England has launched a new transformation fund for Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services. It aims to support the expansion of IPS services so that more people who experience serious mental illness (SMI) can find and retain employment. This investment is part of NHS England’s objective to double access to IPS by 2020/21 as outlined in the implementation plan for the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) wish to invite providers to a market engagement event for the provision of the Greater Manchester Working Well Early Help Programme. The event takes place on 7 Feb 2018 (11:30am - 1pm) at Cotton Room, Manchester Conference Centre, Sackville Street, Manchester M1 3BB.

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.

More than a half (53%) of employers who pay the apprenticeship levy want to see it replaced with a training levy, according to new research by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. Among those already paying the levy, just one in five (17%) support the existing system.

Please note that our office is now closed for Christmas and will re-open on Tuesday 2 January.

We'd like to wish all our members and friends a very Merry Christmas and we send our best wishes for 2018.

The Work and Pensions Committee has criticised the Government response to the Second Independent Review of the Personal Independence Payment Assessment, conducted by Paul Gray CB.

Commenting on the Government's response Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said: