The leaders of the top 350 companies have been urged by Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, to give their views on how to prevent sickness absence caused by work-related stress. The HSE is preparing Management Standards to provide a yardstick against which organisations can measure their progress in tackling work-related stress and can target action where it is most needed. HSE is running a Consultation Campaign on the draft management standards. Responses are required by 27 August 2004.

Castle Personnel have announced 3 workshops across England for users of their Gemma database. The workshops are planned for Newcastle (26 July), Coventry (28 July) and Bristol (29 July). Castle Personnel are looking to establish a user group so that the database, and its reports, can be further developed for the UK market.

The DWP are planning a round of consultations on the positive duty on disability in late July and September. Invitations will be sent to all Chief Executives at the end of June asking for nominations, but they are happy to accept self-nomination also.

The Government has released a new report, "Building on New Deal", that will guide changes to the framework for New Deal delivery. The report advocates central control but increased flexibility in local delivery of the programme. The report calls for closer working with the private and voluntary sector as a way of targeting the most disadvantaged people. Jobcentre Plus Personal Advisors will be supported to make cost-benefit jusgements and will have access to a "menu of provision". The new approach will be tested in"prototype districts" from October.

A new report, published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Social Exclusion Unit, outlines how for the first time, action will be taken to address the full range of issues affecting people with mental health problems, rather than focusing solely on medical needs. The report examines employment options in some detail and concludes, "Many people with mental health problems want to work. Unemployment is associated with worsening mental health.

DWP is consulting on a new qualifications framework around vocational rehabilitation. They have set out their thoughts in a discussion document and are seeking responses by 12 July. The final report is due for publication in late summer 2004. The documents are available on the DWP website.

The Department for Work and Pensions has released a new report into the barriers faced by people as they make the transition to adult life and have to take up adult services. This qualitative study was commissioned in response to the Disability Rights Task Force's recommendations on the need to tackle barriers to joint working in the provision of services and support to disabled people.

The Social Exclusion Unit is consulting on how best to encourage the economic and social participation of people with mental health needs. Click below to see their Scoping Note in Microsoft Word format. Other documents relating to this project can be viewed at the Social Exclusion Unit's website. A series of consultation events is being planned for this summer.

The Government has announced changes to the National Minimum Wage from October 2003. The minimum wage will rise from £4.20 to £4.50 for workers aged 22 and over while it will rise from £3.20 to £3.50 for workers aged 18 to 21 inclusive. Further information is available at the DTI website. Their information note The Minimum Wage and Therapeutic Work has been updated.

The Department of Work & Pensions has issued Social Research Branch report no. 93 - an inhouse report detailing employment-focussed services - in Adobe Acrobat format. The report follows on from the submission of Welfare to Work JIPs and contains a great deal of information about the spread of employment-focussed services across the UK. The report, "Mapping Employment Focussed Services For Disabled People", was written by Hilary Arksey, Patricia Thornton and Julie Williams and is published by HMSO (ISBN 185197 974 3).