Tougher tests introduced for migrants claiming benefits

A new test for migrants who want to claim income-related benefits is being rolled out to Jobcentres across England, Scotland and Wales. In order to pass the improved Habitual Residence Test, migrants will have to answer more individually tailored questions, provide more detailed answers and submit more evidence before they will be allowed to make a claim. For the first time, migrants will be quizzed about what efforts they have made to find work before coming to the UK and whether their English language skills will be a barrier to them finding employment.

Over 200 jobs saved as Remploy automotive factories find buyer

The Remploy board has announced that it has completed the sale of its profitable automotive business to Rempower Ltd, a member of Arlington Industries Group. The sale follows the government’s announcement in March 2012 that it was withdrawing subsidy for Remploy’s factory based businesses and that they should be sold or closed.

The deal sees the existing automotive business based in sites in Birmingham, Coventry and Derby transfer to Rempower Ltd, safeguarding the jobs of all 216 employees, 179 of whom are disabled.

Rent arrears now fastest growing debt problem, says charity

The Money Advice Trust has reported that rent arrears have become the fastest growing debt problem in the UK. The number of calls to the charity’s National Debtline service from people with rent arrears has risen significantly since the economic crisis first hit in 2007. From January to October this year, the free advice helpline received nearly 20,000 calls for help from people with rent arrears, compared with just 8,000 over the same period in 2007 – an increase of 146 per cent.

‘AGE 16 to 24’ programme continued until December 2014

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published research on the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16 to 24 year olds, also known as the ‘AGE 16 to 24’ programme, which supports businesses to recruit young apprentices. The evaluation's positive findings have led to the department continuing this programme until December 2014.

Government welcomes fourth independent review of Work Capability Assessment

The government has welcomed the fourth independent review of the Work Capability Assessment, which found 'good progress' has been made on implementing recommendations from previous reviews and 'notable improvements' to the process already achieved, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced.

New Chief Executive for Remploy

Remploy has announced that Beth Carruthers has been appointed to be its new Chief Executive. Beth will take up the post from 1 January 2014 and succeeds Tim Matthews who is stepping down at the end of his five year contract.

Disabled people hit hardest by welfare reform policies, concludes new research

Disabled people are being hit hardest by the cumulative impact of the government’s welfare reform policies, according to a report by Habinteg Housing Association. The report, ‘What price independent lives?’, launched on the United Nations Day of Disabled People, has highlighted the combined effect of a range of benefit cuts on disabled people’s incomes.

Iain Duncan Smith defends Universal Credit

Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, has defended Universal Credit on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, saying: ‘It is on budget and 6.5 million people will be on the system by the end of 2017’. The roll out of the programme has been delayed as ‘only 400,000 claimants of the 4.6 million that had originally been proposed would be on UC by 2015–16’, the Guardian has explained. The newspaper added that around 700,000 people on Employment Support Allowance will not transition to Universal Credit – a deviation from the original plan. Duncan Smith confirmed a majority of claimants would be claiming Universal Credit by 2017.

Access to Work extended with £2 million

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that £2 million has been set aside through the Access to Work scheme to help disabled people take up work placements. Before this investment, Access to Work only offered this type of support to disabled people on work experience placements organised through Jobcentre Plus.

Social investment fund for north east of England

Big Society Capital and the Northern Rock Foundation have announced the creation of an £11.5 milion social investment fund. The fund will be run by a new organisation, the North East Social Investment Company, especially set up to run the fund, ThirdSector has reported. If negotiations are completed as expected, the fund should be operational by mid-2014.

Prisoner Learning Alliance tells Chris Grayling 'to get smart about rehabilitation reform'

An open letter, sent by 17 organisations, is asking Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to put education at the centre of his rehabilitation reforms. The letter was sent ahead of a new report ‘Smart Rehabilitation’, which highlights the benefits of doing so to reduce crime and make prisons safer.

Event: Innovation in Jobs Theme Camp

Innovation in Jobs Theme Camp is a day for people to come together to think about what we know about unemployed people, and through a process of empathy building and creative design solutions, start develop new ideas for supporting them into employment. The event is held on Thursday, 16 January 2014 from 09:30 to 18:00. Tickets are free but it is necessary to register. 

Largest ever community enterprise fund

The Big Lottery Fund has announced that Power to Change, a Trinity Mirror plc (publisher of the Daily Mirror), and National Lottery backed scheme, is set to invest £150 million in community-led enterprises across England, making it the largest ever community enterprise fund.

Catch22 purchases five independent schools from CfBT Education Trust

Catch22 and CfBT Education Trust have announced that CfBT Include, a charity which supports vulnerable young people aged 5 to 18 years old to access education, has become part of Catch22’s growing education portfolio.

Prepaid card for rent payments is being trialled

A prepaid card used to pay rent automatically is being tested by Moat, a housing association, has reported. Moat, a housing association in the South East, is working in partnership with Western Union, to trial this card to inform them of the challenges involved for housing providers with the introduction of Universal Credit.