National Autism Strategy published

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published the long-delayed National Autism Strategy. It includes a section on employment but, unfortunately, there's little in the way of new measures or ambition. It includes an implementation plan that focuses on promoting Access to Work, improving awareness amongst employers and continued access to the IPES programme (for which we've seen no outcome data yet). We hope that the strategy will become more ambitious following the next spending review.

In the first year, the key employment support commitments will be to:

  • continue our work to ensure our Jobcentre network is welcoming and supportive to autistic customers, developing and testing new approaches through our Health Model Offices.
  • continue to ensure that through the Disability Confident Scheme, we promote the skills and abilities of autistic people, and signpost employers to resources on supporting autistic people

  • continue to promote employment support programmes, including Access to Work and IPES to autistic people who are at least a year away from work

  • continue to recognise the specific needs of autistic people during the COVID-19 pandemic, and take appropriate action to mitigate a disproportionate impact on autistic people

  • Expanding the government’s Autism Exchange Internship Programme outside of London and the South East 


Education and transitions actions planned for the first year include:

• improve understanding of autism amongst educational professionals by continuing to provide funding for autism training and professional development in schools and colleges in 2021 to 2022 

• publish and consult on the SEND review as soon as possible 

• carry out a new anti-bullying programme in schools, to improve the wellbeing of children and young people in schools, including those who are autistic 

• provide a further £8.6 million funding in 2021 to strengthen the participation of parents and young people – including those who are autistic in the design of SEND policies and services and ensure that they are able to access high quality information, advice and support 

• take action to strengthen and promote pathways to employment, such as Supported Internships, Traineeships and apprenticeships, and work to support all local areas to develop Supported Employment Forums