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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/touchbase-dwp-news-about-work-working-age-benefits-and-services/july-2017-touchbade-edition-120
This edition of Touchbase focusses on initiatives that support disabled people and those with health conditions back into work. It also highlights an article written by Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, on the benefits of employing people with learning disabilities.
This edition also includes information on:
- the State Pension age review
- innovative employment schemes
- the future of DWP’s estate
- the Queen’s Award for Enterprise
- changes to GCSEs in England
We always welcome your feedback. Please send your comments and thoughts about Touchbase, including what articles and information you would like to see to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. DWP publishes its review into the State Pension age
Under a proposal contained in the State Pension age review, the State Pension age will increase to 68 between 2037 and 2039. Under current legislation, the State Pension age will rise to 68 between 2044 and 2046.
The change, which is subject to parliamentary approval, will affect everyone born between 6 April 1970 and 5 April 1978. However, under the proposal they will, on average, still receive more State Pension over their lifetime than generations before them.
No one born on or before 5 April 1970 will see a change to their current proposed State Pension age.
The change is intended to maintain fairness between generations in line with continuing increases in life expectancy.
3. The Work and Health Programme
We are introducing the Work and Health Programme in England and Wales from autumn 2017. The Scottish Government will be introducing separate arrangements for people in Scotland.
This new contracted employment provision will help disabled people, the long-term unemployed and specified early access disadvantaged priority groups to find sustainable work.
Work and Health Programme providers will take a holistic approach to tackling barriers to employment by linking up with health and social care providers and other local services aimed at getting people into work. The aim of this integrated approach is to achieve the best possible outcomes for participants.
4. Work Choice
England and Wales
Work Choice is a programme supporting the government’s aim to halve the disability employment gap. Latest figures show that:
- 62% of people who start Work Choice secure employment
- over half of Employment and Support Allowance customers that join Work Choice find work
To ensure ongoing specialist provision for disabled customers, Work Choice has been extended until at least autumn 2017 in England and Wales.
Under the provisions of the Scotland Act, Work Choice referrals in Scotland ceased on 31 March 2017. Providers will support customers already participating until at least October 2018.
5. The Personal Support Package – Local Supported Employment proof of concept
As part of the Personal Support Package for people with disabilities or health conditions, DWP will work closely with a number of local authorities to deliver local supported employment for those with:
- learning difficulties
- severe mental health conditions
The following local authorities have been selected to work with DWP:
- Brighton and Hove City Council
- Cheshire West and Chester Council
- City of York Council
- Croydon Council
- Hertfordshire County Council
- Kent County Council
- Shropshire Council
- Stockport Council
- Telford and Wrekin Council
The proof of concept will commence later in the year for approximately 18 months.
6. Why be Disability Confident?
Over 4,500 UK organisations have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to help them employ great disabled talent.
Around 7 million people in the UK have a disability or health condition, so recruiting and retaining disabled people in the workforce means accessing the widest possible pool of talent. It can also improve staff morale and engagement, by demonstrating commitment to fairness and open recruitment.
7. It’s time to open up your business to people with learning disabilities
Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, has written the following article which outlines the benefits of employing people with learning disabilities.
Is professional”, “has a positive outlook”, “is a joy to work with”. These are the kinds of attributes every employer is searching for in an employee. They just also happen to be the words of Richard, a manager at the Thistle Hotel in Kensington, in describing his waitress and barista, Sarah.
Every good manager knows that to get the best out of their team they must give them the right support and training. That’s been an important part of Sarah’s success. Sarah also happens to have a learning disability. Around one in 50 people in the UK have a learning disability, but only 6% of those who are able to work are employed. That’s got to change.
Find out more about Sarah’s story in the following video:
8. Innovative employment schemes announced
DWP and the Department for Communities and Local Government have launched 6 locally designed pilots to support thousands of disadvantaged people into work.
These pilots include:
- a new health and care sector academy to train social care workers in Cambridge and Peterborough
- an early intervention scheme in Sheffield to prevent people from becoming long-term unemployed
- a business-led, training hub to improve work skills in the Tees Valley
9. Future of DWP’s estate
Final plans have been published to update DWP’s property estate.
DWP’s plans include:
- merging 68 smaller jobcentres into larger ones nearby
- co-locating around 40 jobcentres with local authorities or community services to provide joined-up services
- moving staff from 22 back office buildings into larger, more efficient processing sites, including introducing 5 new service centres
- retaining almost 800 offices
- re-organising the corporate centre and making use of 7 regional corporate hubs, including establishing a new office in Manchester
DWP will be able to offer a more efficient service, while delivering good value for the taxpayer, saving over £140 million a year for the next 10 years.
10. Give your business the recognition it deserves: the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK’s most prestigious business awards
Whether you excel in international trade, have a great innovative product or service, show outstanding sustainable development practices, or are running an impressive social mobility scheme, these awards are a unique way to recognise your contribution.
Winning a Queen’s Award can:
- increase staff morale
- bring worldwide recognition
- provide excellent marketing opportunities
- boost turnover
Follow the Queen’s Awards on Twitter - @TheQueensAwards
11. GCSEs in England are changing
GCSEs in England are being reformed and will ensure that students leave school better prepared for work or further study.
Starting with English and maths from this summer, a new 9 to 1 grading scale replaces A* to G, with 9 being the highest grade. By 2020, all GCSEs in England will be reformed and graded 9 to 1. A new GCSE grade 4 is broadly equivalent to a low/medium grade C, the standard for a level 2 qualification.