AELP publishes briefing paper on DWP Commissioning Strategy

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has published a briefing paper on the new DWP Commissioning Strategy.

Benefit sanctions hit most vulnerable people the hardest, report says

Systematic problems in the way the government administers and imposes benefit sanctions, including disproportionate burdens on the most vulnerable, are revealed in a report commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report found the way in which the DWP communicated with claimants was legalistic, unclear and confusing. The most vulnerable claimants were often left at a loss as to why benefits were stopped and frequently not informed by the DWP about hardship payments to which they were entitled, it said.

Wages fall as older people delay retirement, Bank of England suggests

The Bank of England has said that while the number of people in employment rose by almost 350,000 between March and April, average weekly earnings have fallen.

Officials said that wages may be falling because more people are working, including growing numbers of elderly people "concerned about the adequacy of retirement provisions".

They also suggested that the government's welfare reforms may mean that more longer-term unemployed people are coming onto the jobs market.

MPs heavily criticise Work Capability Assessments and call for an overhaul of disability benefits system

A “fundamental redesign” is needed of the disability benefits system, because flaws in the process are so “grave”, says a report published by the Work and Pensions Select Committee. The report argues that replacing Atos will not address the problems in the system, and urges ministers to take the withdrawal of Atos as an opportunity to fundamentally redesign Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Council tax rises hit Britain’s poor hardest

More than two million of the poorest people in England are facing rising council tax demands this year because of fresh government cuts to the benefit system, new figures have revealed. War widows, carers and the disabled are among 2.31 million people who used to be entitled to council tax benefit but have now had their support substantially reduced or taken away altogether.

As a result, significant numbers of families have been pushed into debt, with a survey revealing that nearly 16,000 people in London alone have been referred to the bailiffs for non-payment.

Youth Contract to be ended early

The coalition’s flagship programme to tackle youth unemployment is to be wound up early, amid claims that it has been an "abject failure". The £1bn youth contract wage incentive scheme was championed by Nick Clegg at the height of the recession as a way to help tackle youth unemployment. But with the jobs market rapidly improving and take-up of the programme falling substantially below projected levels, it is to be cut short next month.

Childcare provision is unsuitable for the modern labour market, finds research

Detailed analysis by Citizens Advice reveals that parents on low incomes or with unstable working hours are forced to rely on poorer quality childcare providers. The rise in self-employment and jobs with irregular hours means working parents will increasingly depend on flexible childcare. However the charity’s research shows those childcare providers most likely to offer variable hours have poorer Ofsted ratings and so will be of lower quality.

Health Management Ltd, a Maximus company, to deliver new Health and Work Service

Following a successful tendering exercise, Health Management Limited, a Maximus company has been appointed to deliver the new Health and Work Service in England and Wales. The Health and Work Service in Scotland will be delivered by the Scottish Government and will provide the same core service as delivered in England and Wales.

The Service will make health and work expertise and occupational health assessments more widely available to all GPs, employers and employees via: 

Apprentice growth in Greater Manchester dominated by older workers, study finds

Almost half of apprenticeships in Greater Manchester have been taken by adults in their thirties, forties and fifties – many of whom are likely to already be in jobs – rather than young people trying to get into work, a new study finds.

The report by New Economy – Greater Manchester’s economic think-tank and advisor on best policy practice – shows that adult apprentices over the age of 25 have grown from 2,472 in 2008/9 to 13,485 in 2012/13 (a rise of 446%).

Charities have a bigger role to play in welfare-to work-schemes, says NCVO

The way welfare-to-work schemes are designed and paid for needs a major overhaul, according to a report by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

The report argues that the Work Programme is not helping those with multiple or complex barriers, and voluntary organisations are well placed to provide support for those who are furthest from the labour market.

Government to update communications with benefit claimants on sanctions

The government is set to update the way it talks to benefit claimants, setting up a specialist team to look at all communications – including claimant letters – and working more closely with local authorities and advice centres to simplify the system.

Remploy beginning to seek private investment

Remploy Employment Services is now able to seek private investment enabling it to expand. By allowing Remploy to take on significant investment free from government control – as requested by the Remploy Board and as recommended by Liz Sayce in her recent review – they will have the freedom and flexibility to grow the business and help even more disabled people into jobs.

Beth Carruthers, Chief Executive of Remploy said:

New Jobcentre plus model proposed by thinktank Policy Exchange

DWP permanent secretary rejects Work Programme audit findings

Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, has rejected the National Audit Office's conclusion that the Work Programme is no more effective than its predecessors.

The NAO report, called 'The Work Programme' and published on 2 July, said that the programme is “achieving similar levels of job outcomes to previous welfare-to-work programmes for Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged 25 and over.”

Beth Gardner succeeds Stephen Gardner as CEO of Fair Train

At the end of July 2014 Stephen Gardner will be standing down as CEO of Fair Train, to be succeeded by Beth Gardner (no relation!).