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The Department for Work and Pensions may soon advertise a number of opportunities and go out to tender via the Test & Learn Dynamic Purchasing System (T&L DPS). They want to warm up the market to these possible opportunities and DWP reserves the right not proceed to an invitation to tender.  The opportunities currently under consideration are in the following areas:

  • Local Supported Employment
  • Quality and accreditations (Autism support and Occupational Health)
  • Occupational Health
  • Individual Placement Support

Transport for London (TfL) has issued a market sounding questionnaire. It seeks to obtain market feedback in relation to the design, delivery and management of supported internship provision for the Steps into Work programme. The primary focus of the MSQ is to better understand market/supplier appetite, capacity and capability, as well as perceived risks and opportunities.

TfL's employability programmes provide work readiness skills and opens doors to employment to some of the most disadvantaged groups in society. Individuals who fall into these groups have been disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic and now face even greater barriers to employment. The employability programmes are currently undergoing a redesign to better support those that most need it, through partnerships with charities, delivery partners and business stakeholders.

DWP has announced that it has awarded Restart contracts to bidders in all 12 contract package areas following a commercial process through the Commercial Agreement for Employment and Health Related Services [CAEHRS].

Four of the Restart bidders were successful and have each been awarded two contracts, these are: Ingeus, Maximus, Reed in Partnership and Serco. All other successful bidders have been awarded one contract each area, these are: Fedcap Employment, G4S, Jobs 22 and Seetec Pluss. 

Now is the Time. As we move towards publication of a national disability strategy, it is timely to reflect on how things stand within the Supported Employment sector. It is telling that 40 years after the introduction of Supported Employment to the UK, we have still not seen any national funding of a sector that is predominantly funded through local authorities and charitable sources.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Disability Commission has published a comprehensive report, Now is the Time, that examines disability policy across education, employment, housing, transport, and access to goods and services. BASE fed views into the report's development. We welcome its recommendations and expect it to influence the development of the National Disability Strategy.

The report has large chapters on education and employment with specific sections devoted to apprenticeships, Supported Interrnships and Supported Employment. The report also contains recommendations around support for employers, Access to Work, Disability Confident, workforce reporting and government procurement.

Department of Education have confirmed that Supported Interns who were not able to meet the core aim of their internship in the 2020-21 academic year may continue their internship into the 2021-22 academic year. This will also apply to 2019-20 interns who continued into 2020-21 and  have not yet completed their internships.

We've now has confirmation that Access to Work will be extended to cover supported interns who are repeating their course.

DWP has issued new Access to Work guidance for education providers and supported Employment providers involved in delivering Supported Internships. They have also revised the application form and support plan. Note that these forms are subject to ongoing change as they are refined by DWP.

Image of strategy and link to download itThe European Union has published its new Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030. The new strategy builds on its predecessor, the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, and contributes to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights for which an Action Plan will be adopted by the Commission this week.

BASE member, Matt Wood of Millwood Servicing, has formed the WoodMor Foundation to support disadvantaged people to prepare for employment. The foundation aims to increase the opportunities of employment for disabled, vulnerable or disadvantaged people aged 25 and above. To do this, they will provide an individual with an event, expedition or specialist skills training programme that aims to develop their confidence and employability. 

DWP Ministers have agreed to continue Access to Work funding for employability activities delivered through Supported Internships through the 2020/21 academic year. This means that supported interns can continue to receive funded job coaching support for employment-related activities through Access to Work until the end of August 2021.

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