11 December 2020Roundup of recent DWP announcements
Update on the Lifetime Skills Guarantee As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, from April 2021, adults without A-Levels or equivalent will be eligible to study for a free Level 3 qualification to help boost their job prospects and get ahead in work. There are almost 400 courses on offer including; construction, agriculture, digital and health and social care. As an alternative, Skills Bootcamps offer flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. These are currently available in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Lancashire, the Liverpool City Region, the Leeds City Region, Heart of the Southwest, and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. People who live in one of these areas, can find out more on their local authority website. In 2021, the Skills Bootcamps will expand into new regions with more course subjects on offer. Find out more
Personal Independence Payment form change On 11 January the Personal Independence Payment change of circumstances form PIP2(UI) (How your disability affects you) will be replaced with a new form called the AR1UI (How your disability affects you). The new form aligns the change of circumstances process with the award review process, providing a consistent approach when customers report changes in their needs. Our aim is to reduce the time it takes for customers to complete the form, so we have made it shorter, requiring them to provide less information Customers should continue to return any outstanding PIP2(UI) forms as directed in their letter. Further Information can be found here.
New scheme to support vulnerable people The Government is inviting local organisations to form partnerships and bid for a share of the funding to better support those who experience multiple disadvantages including homelessness, substance misuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse, and contact with the criminal justice system. Find out more
Advice on what the Brexit Transition will mean for benefits and State Pensions Check the living in guides for your host country for important information on benefits, pensions, passports, healthcare, driving licences and pets. They also give advice on how to register for the necessary residency status in each host country and how to register for updates on the Brexit transition. Please share this information via your channels.
Last night (10th December 2020) the DWP’s Tier one CAEHRS Framework Providers received information relating to stage one of the ITT relating to the Restart Programme.
As we understand it, the full specification of the ITT will be shared in a virtual data room, expected to go live on Wednesday 16 December. Once we have this, both organisations will share with members and the wider sector.
Further information The Restart Programme was announced on 25 November in the SR20 as part of a package of £3.7 billion additional funding allocated to support frontline services and to enable DWP to deliver on July’s Plan for Jobs to support people back into work. The Restart programme will provide intensive and tailored support to over 1 million unemployed people and help them find work in England and Wales, with approximately £400million investment in 2021-22. The first step in a £2.9 billion three-year programme.
ERSA will be facilitating market engagement information and networking activity to support the employability sector.
We will be in touch with more information as soon as it is available.
Supplier security accreditation and assurances survey
DWP is looking to understand the current supplier security accreditation and assurances held via audit reports. This is to inform how it fits with the new DWP security policies and how we can future proof against more sophisticated security and cyber threats going forward.
The survey is now live, will remain open until Friday 8 January and should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. One response per organisation please.
COVID-19 updates Ofsted: COVID-19 rolling update – This sets out our guidance and information relating to COVID-19 (coronavirus) for schools, early years, children’s social care and further education and skills providers. We are updating it regularly. If you need to see what we’ve added since you last checked it, you can select ‘history‘ on the page and this lists all the updates. COVID-19 briefing notes – Over the coming months, we’ll be publishing what we’ve found on our visits to education and social care providers as part of our phased return to routine inspection. These are this month’s publications in this series:
Restart programme to help over a million unemployed people
This week DWP revealed further details of the £2.9bn Restart programme to help more than a million benefit claimants, which was announced by the Chancellor in the Spending Review. This forms part of the Government’s wider Plan for Jobs to protect, support and create jobs.
Restart is a new programme to help people on Universal Credit within the Intensive Work Search group, who have been out of work for 12 months or longer with no sustainable earnings when they are referred to Restart. They will receive more intensive support, via fortnightly meetings for up to a year, from local providers. Using in-depth knowledge of local jobs and skills markets, providers will work with community organisations, including local authorities, to deliver tailored support for individuals. This may include training to switch to growth sectors by providing support through recruitment stages, updating IT skills and / or getting the right certificates to take up a job in a different industry, such as construction or transport.
The scheme is expected to help more than a million jobseekers over the course of three years and will be available in England and Wales. Support for the long term unemployed in Scotland will be considered separately by the Scottish Government.
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Further details on the Spending Review speech can be found here.
Attendance Allowance update
Attendance Allowance (AA) review processes are reverting to previous arrangements, after changes were made in response to COVID-19.
The first customers to be affected will be those whose AA awards expire on or after 8 March 2021. These customers will receive renewal packs in the coming weeks and will have the normal 20 week period to complete and return their packs prior to their award expiring.
Awards that were due to expire before 8 March 2021 will be automatically extended and will continue to receive payments until they are subject to a review at a later date.
If someone claiming AA has a change of circumstances they still need to inform DWP.
Please share this information with your audiences and members.
People who are receiving certain benefits could be eligible for a payment of £500 if they have been told to self-isolate, are unable to work from home, and will lose income as a result of self-isolating.
Eligible benefits include Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Pension Credit. Other eligibility rules apply. People who are not eligible but who will still face hardship as a result of having to self-isolate may be able to get a discretionary payment instead, depending on their individual circumstances.
Neither self-isolation support payments nor discretionary payments will affect DWP benefit eligibility or payments.
Read more on eligibility criteria and how to apply where you live:
Letters sent to UK nationals to prepare for the Brexit transition
The Government has sent out 365,000 letters to UK State Pensioners and benefit recipients living in the EU to advise them to take action to prepare for the end of the UK transition. The letters included advice on how to register for residency and healthcare and also confirmed recipients would continue to receive their State Pensions as they do now.
The UK Government has allocated £3 million for charities and community voluntary organisations across Europe to assist UK Nationals who may need additional help to register or apply to protect their residency rights. This includes potentially at-risk groups, such as pensioners and disabled people and those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties.
UK Nationals can find the most up to date information on actions they may need to take on GOV.UK for their country.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency closed the register to new bids on April 15 to “review our future approach” and a digital apprenticeship service “road map” (shown below) was tweeted on Thursday and reveals their current timeline.
Under a column for April to June 2021, the road map says there will be a “new service for providers to apply to join the register online”.
The following article by Bill Camden was published in FEWEEK
Less than half of the schools in the government’s multi-million pound network of careers hubs have met a target for providing “encounters with further and higher education”.
A report published today by the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) shows that while more schools are meeting the eight Gatsby benchmarks for good careers guidance, progress towards full compliance remains slow.
“Encounters with further and higher education” is the seventh benchmark and sets a target for every pupil by the age of 16 to have had a “meaningful encounter with providers of the full range of learning opportunities, including sixth forms, colleges, universities and apprenticeship providers”, which should include the “opportunity to meet both staff and pupils”.
But today’s CEC data shows that just 47 per cent of the more than 2,000 schools in the quango’s careers hubs fully achieved the target by March 2020.
The figure was even lower when the CEC looked at achievements in its whole network of 4,000 schools and colleges – where 26 per cent met the target by the same period. For those schools not in the CEC’s network, 13 per cent met the target.
The findings chime with concerns from the education select committee about non-compliance with the Baker Clause – a law introduced in January 2018 that stipulates schools must ensure a range of FE providers have access to pupils from year 8 to year 13 to provide information on technical education and apprenticeships.
The committee questioned Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman on this issue during a hearing this week. Spielman said inspectors have found examples of non-compliance in schools and pledged to give careers guidance the “attention it deserves” when inspections restart.
Asked why they thought schools were struggling to provide encounters with FE providers for pupils, a CEC spokesperson said: “There has been sustained improvement in the number of young people having encounters with further and higher education. This improvement represents a threefold increase over two years.
“These are rigorous and demanding standards for schools and colleges. In order to achieve the criteria, they must achieve a range of measures such as meeting a full range of FE and HE providers and information about a broad range of apprenticeships.”
Today’s CEC report shows that overall national performance towards all eight of the Gatsby benchmarks has doubled since 2016/17 – schools and colleges have moved from achieving 1.87 of them on average to 3.75 as of March 2020.
Progress is higher when looking only at schools and colleges in career hubs – they are achieving 4.8 of the target on average.
The other benchmarks that appear to be proving most difficult to meet include “a stable careers programme” and “addressing the needs of each student”.
The CEC has come under fire in recent years from high-profile people in the sector like education select committee chair Robert Halfon, who has accused the quango of making little progress in improving careers education in England despite receiving millions from the public purse.
The first 20 careers hubs, for example, launched in 2018 and were backed with £5 million, covering 710 schools and colleges. A further 19 opened or expanded in 2019 and were given with £2.5 million as the programme scaled up to cover 1,300 schools and colleges.
Figures obtained by FE Week’s sister title Schools Week last year revealed that the CEC itself had received lmost £100 million since launching in 2014 to boost provision.
Careers hubs comprise colleges working with local schools and universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to pool their expertise on improving careers education in their area.
They include a “hub lead” who works with school and college leaders to provide “strategic support” on their careers plan and access to business networks, as well their delivery against the Gatsby benchmarks.
The hubs also have “careers leaders”, who offer face-to-face careers training to schools and colleges.
A CEC spokesperson said: “The evidence shows performance on this measure is significantly better in CEC’s Careers Hubs and network, proving that targeted investment has accelerated progress.”