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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/march-2017-touchbase-edition-119
1. Welcome to Touchbase edition 119
This month’s Touchbase focusses on the Personal Support Package initiative. The initiative offers tailored employment support which Jobcentre Plus work coaches will help disabled people or people with health conditions to access.
Further information on the Personal Support Package can be found in the Work, health and disability green paper consultation.
This month’s edition also includes information on:
- Work Programme referrals
- the Disability Employment Adviser role in jobcentres
- changes to Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity payments
- the defined benefit pension schemes green paper
- the May 2017 local and mayoral elections
As always, we 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.
Please encourage your colleagues to subscribe to Touchbase.
The Personal Support Package – Community Partners
Community Partners will be introduced to Jobcentres in a phased approach from April to August 2017. They will:
- provide expert knowledge of disability to enhance the support we provide to claimants
- give advice and support to work coaches and Disability Employment Advisers in all areas of disability
- raise awareness of the effect a person’s disability can have on finding and keeping a job
The Community Partner role will vary to ensure that the support provided in each district can meet the needs of the claimants there.
The Personal Support Package – Small Employer Offer
The Small Employer Offer gives Jobcentre Plus the opportunity to raise awareness with small employers of the support available to them when employing a person with a long-term health condition or disability.
102 new Small Employer Advisers (3 per district) will work with local small employers and work coaches to provide support for small employers and their new employees.
The advisers will:
- work with small employers to develop and maintain relationships
- ensure the correct person is referred to a vacancy or work experience opportunity
- support employers and their employees when completing Access to Work applications
The Personal Support Package – Access to Work
Access to Work gives financial support to help eligible people with a health condition or disability to:
- take up a job offer
- retain employment
Currently, people with a mental health condition can receive 6 months of support via the Mental Health Support Service to start a new job.
As part of the Personal Support Package, there will be 1,000 extra Mental Health Support Service places for:
- new Employment and Support Allowance claimants from 3 April 2017 in the work-related activity group
- those with limited capability for work in Universal Credit, who have a job start date
Approximately 50% of people in these groups have a mental health condition and referring candidates who obtain a job offer can help make their transition more sustainable.
The Personal Support Package – Work Choice
Work Choice is a voluntary employment programme for people living in England and Wales who, due to their disability, may find it difficult to find or keep a job.
Work Choice is delivered for DWP by external contractors and has effectively provided support, with job outcome rates seeing a steady improvement since the programme was introduced.
From 3 April 2017, extra places on Work Choice are being funded for people who have limited capability for work and are not eligible for:
- the work-related activity component in Employment and Support Allowance
- the additional payment for having limited capability for work in Universal Credit, but who will be work ready within 12 months
Referrals to Work Choice will end when the new Work and Health programme starts in November 2017.
Final Work Programme referrals
The Work Programme has been DWP’s largest contracted employment programme. It transformed the lives of those furthest from the labour market, and has helped over 550,000 people into sustained employment.
Alongside existing programmes, the new Work and Health Programme is designed to help customers with health and disability issues and the long-term unemployed. As a result, Jobcentre Plus will make final referrals to the Work Programme on 31 March 2017. Participants referred by that date will receive personalised support from their Work Programme provider for up to 2 years.
The Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) role in Jobcentres is changing
We are recruiting up to 300 more Jobcentre DEAs, taking the total to over 500 by 31 March 2017.
DEAs will further support work coaches by:
- raising disability awareness
- providing tailored support to help them with individual cases
This will ensure that Jobcentre work coaches benefit from the expertise of the DEA as the role is re-launched.
DEAs will be the Jobcentre link to other organisations such as health professionals and local charities. By building and maintaining strong relationships with these organisations, DEAs can ensure Jobcentre colleagues have up to date information about local and national courses and programmes to help people with a complex health condition or disability.
The new DEA role forms part of a wider initiative to improve the lives of people with a disability or long-term health condition.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) work-related activity group (WRAG) payment changes
From 3 April 2017 there will be changes to ESA work-related activity payments for all new ESA claimants who are placed in the WRAG. Claimants who apply for ESA before 3 April will not be affected by the changes.
The change to ESA WRAG payments is being mirrored by a similar change to the limited capability for work payments in Universal Credit, for claimants with a disability or health condition.
Join the debate
DWP has launched a green paper looking at the security and sustainability of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes.
Currently around 11 million current and future pensioners in the UK will rely on a DB scheme for all or part of their retirement.
The paper considers:
- scheme funding and investment
- employer contributions and affordability
- member protection
- scheme consolidation
We want to encourage the debate around striking the right balance between the needs and aspirations of scheme members, sponsoring employers and the wider economy to ensure that no one group is unfairly disadvantaged.
We are keen to hear from:
- members of DB schemes
- pensions professionals
May 2017 local and mayoral elections
Want to have your say in the local and mayoral elections on 4 May 2017? You must register to vote by:
- 13 April in England and Wales
- 17 April in Scotland