DWP Touchbase: 11 December 2020
December 15, 2020
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11 December 2020 Roundup 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.
ERSA and the Institute of Employability Professionals Announcement
December 14, 2020
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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.
 
The DWP’s CAEHRS Framework
 
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. 

https://getinvolved.dwp.gov.uk/++preview++/03-finance/16a54076/ 

If you have issues completing the survey, please contact Katherine.harrison@dwp.gov.uk

DWP Touchbase: 27 November 2020
November 30, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements.

Touchbase

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.

Please share via your channels.

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.

Find out more

Please share this information with your audiences and members.

Self-Isolation Payments

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.

Please share this information via your channels.

Jobcentre Guidance on New National Covid Restrictions
November 11, 2020
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DWP PRESS RELEASE 9 November 2020: On 31 October 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will be introducing new national COVID-19 measures in England to protect the NHS and save lives.

This means from 5 November 2020 until 2 December 2020 in England, the following updated jobcentre guidance will apply to customers, and will ensure essential support is provided whilst keeping colleagues and customers safe.

  • Jobcentres will remain open, as they have throughout this pandemic, to provide essential services and support to those whom we cannot help in any other way.
  • We will ensure that this support continues to be delivered in line with the latest government and PHE guidance – such as maintaining social distancing and rigorous cleaning regimes – keeping our colleagues and customers safe.
  • Customers will continue to be supported by Work Coaches online and over the phone, with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with us on the phone or digitally.
  • Our Work Coaches will continue to deliver employment support programmes such as Kickstart and JETS, by phone or through online channels.
  • Face-to-face assessments for disability benefits remain suspended.
  • If you think you might be entitled to a health and disability benefit, you should contact us as soon as possible to make a claim in the usual way.
  • For existing customers, payments will continue as normal. Anyone who has a change in their needs should contact us immediately so we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

On 3 November 2020, we also confirmed that the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor – for self-employed customers claiming Universal Credit in England, Scotland, and Wales – has been extended to the end of April 2021. This means that self-employed customers on Universal Credit will receive a payment that reflects their earnings at this difficult time.

For Scotland:

On 2 November, the Scottish Government introduced a new five level tiered system. The following will therefore apply to jobcentres and customers in Scotland:

Levels 0, 1 and 2 guidance:

  • Customers will continue to be supported by Work Coaches online and over the phone, with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with us on the phone or digitally.
  • All jobcentres to remain open – maintaining social distancing and regular desk and communal space cleaning in line with current Covid-19 guidance.
  • If you think you might be entitled to a health and disability benefit you should contact us as soon as possible to make a claim in the usual way.
  • For existing customers, payments will continue as normal. Anyone who has a change in their needs should contact us immediately so we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

Levels 3 and 4:

  • For these levels, the jobcentre guidance in place for the new national restrictions in England until 2 December 2020 (above) will apply.

For Wales:

The Welsh Government introduced the two week ‘firebreak’ restrictions in Wales on 26 October 2020 that will last until 9 November 2020. The jobcentre guidance in place for the new national restrictions in England until 2 December 2020 (above) will apply during this period.

After 9 November 2020, the Welsh Government announced an easing of restrictions. From then, the following will apply to jobcentres and customers in Wales:

  • All jobcentres to remain open – maintaining social distancing and regular desk and communal space cleaning in line with current Covid-19 guidance.
  • Customers will continue to be supported by Work Coaches online and over the phone, with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with us on the phone or digitally.

For Northern Ireland:

Please contact the Department for Communities for more information on measures introduced in Northern Ireland – 028 9082 9000.

A DWP spokesperson said:

Jobcentres have remained open throughout this pandemic to provide vital support and essential services to those whom we cannot help remotely.

These new measures will ensure that we can continue this support while keeping our colleagues and customers safe, following the latest Government and PHE guidance.”

DWP: Tier 3 FSF DPS 2 Questionnaire
November 3, 2020
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The DWP Employment Category Supplier Survey and Market Engagement for Tier 3 FSF DPS 2 Questionnaire is now live.

The survey covers;

  • Section A – 2020 DWP Employment Category Supplier Survey
  • Section B – CAEHRS – Feedback on the recent competition
  • Section C – Market Engagement: Tier 3 and Flexible Support Fund DPS 2

The survey will take no longer than 30 minutes to complete and will remain open until 20 November 2020. Use the following link to access the questionnaire. https://getinvolved.dwp.gov.uk/03-finance/a2e26fde/

ERSA: Meet the Primes of CAEHRS
November 2, 2020
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Through the work of ERSA, organisations have the opportunity to hear on YouTube from the following organisations who have been awarded a successful place on the DWP’s new Commercial Agreement for Employment and Health Related Services, the CAEHRS Framework.

The following ERSA members have been grouped in the order they presented. 

Group 1 

Jobs 22
Palladium International
Pinnacle Housing (PORTRUS)
Seetec Pluss
Serco Group

Watch this group again here

Group 2

Capita Group
Fedcap Employment
G4S Regional Management (UK&I)
Ingeus UK
Shaw Trust

Watch this group again here

Group 3

Adecco Working Ventures
Business 2 Business
The Growth Company
Twin Training International
WISE Ability

Group 4

Watch this group again here

Standguide
The Salvation Army Trustees
Cumbria Chamber of Commerce
Go Train
Sodexo

Watch this group again here

The full list of CAEHRS Framework organisations is here.

Check ERSA’s opportunities hub for details of open opportunities. 

*SAVE THE DATE(S)
The following meeting dates and agendas are being shared directly with ERSA members this week and following these meetings we’ll be inviting applications for chairs/vice chairs for all. Get in touch if you are interested in one of these opportunities via events@ersa.org.uk (ERSA members only)

Wales                               
3 November, 2 – 3.30pm

Central England             
4 November, 10 – 11.30am

Scotland                  
5 November, 10am – 12pm  (extended meeting for Employment Support Scotland)     

North East                       
6 November 10 – 11.30am

In Conversation with the DWP
6 November, 3 – 5pm

ERSA members will be joined by representatives from the DWP; 

  • Mark Leigh, Deputy Director, Head of Employment Services Category, Department for Work and Pensions, Commercial Directorate, Finance Group
  • Karina Stibbards, Deputy Director, Labour Market Strategy, Labour Market, Families and Disadvantage Directorate, Policy Group;
  • Nick Butler, Employment Account Director, Department for Work and Pensions, Finance Group, Contract Management and Partner Delivery Directorate.

ERSA members can submit questions in advance of the session via membership@ersa.org.uk.

North West                     
9 November 10-11.30am

Southern                         
10 November 10 – 11.30am

London & Home Counties
12 November, 10.30am – 12pm

*With regret, these meetings are limited to ERSA members only

ERSA membership might be more accessible than you think
Membership is per organisation, with unlimited staff access to services and events, rates start from £300 for the next 12 months. Information on joining the voice of employment support can be found at https://ersa.org.uk/membership/registerIn case you missed it

Prior Notice of DWP Tier 3 and Flexible Support Fund Dynamic Purchasing System 2 (FSF DPS 2) – Market Engagement Activity

Meet the Primes of CAEHRS 

DWP’s new framework for employment and health related services announced

DWP Touchbase: 23rd October 2020
October 26, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements  
 Financial support for businesses and workers increased 
This week the government announced changes to its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus. In recognition of the challenging times ahead, the Chancellor said he would be increasing support through the existing Job Support and self-employed schemes, and expanding business grants to support companies in high-alert level areas. For further information, please visit GOV.UK.  
Universal Credit regulation change for customers who are paid monthly 
DWP has amended Universal Credit for those who are paid monthly by their employer, and occasionally receive two payments from their employer in one month. DWP staff now have the ability to reallocate a second monthly payment from a customer’s employer into a different assessment period. This means that if, for example, people are paid early by their employer due to their regular monthly pay date falling on a weekend or bank holiday they won’t have two wages allocated to one assessment period. This change will come into effect on 16 November.  
Cold Weather Payment 
The Cold Weather Payment scheme is available from 1 November until 31 March. It provides people on certain benefits £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather and is paid automatically. Claimants receiving a qualifying benefit can check if their postcode has been triggered for a paymentFind out more
DWP Touchbase: 16 October 2020
October 19, 2020
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Employers joining the Kickstart Scheme 
As employers sign up for the new Kickstart Scheme, we’re sharing a video from Molinare TV and Film. Watch the video to find out how they are helping young people get a foothold in the creative sector through Kickstart. The Kickstart Scheme funds employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are claiming Universal Credit. Businesses applying for fewer than 30 positions over the lifetime of the scheme need to bid through a representative who will help them with their applications, ensure jobs are of good quality and young people receive the right support. Find out more   
Employment and Support Allowance updates Extension of Employment Support Allowance support for those impacted by COVID-19 
DWP has announced an extension of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for those impacted by COVID-19. This means that ESA will remain available from day one to people with coronavirus or who have to self-isolate. Regulations, which came into effect on 13 March for those affected by COVID-19, have been extended for a further six months until 12 May 2021. The regulations remove the seven ESA waiting days, and treat claimants as having Limited Capability for Work without the requirement for fit notes or a Work Capability Assessment. This applies to both new style and legacy ESA new claims and ensures that support is provided as early as possible to those who are affected by coronavirus.  

Helping people follow the process for Employment Support Allowance applications 
When applying for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) it is really important people follow the right process so they get the correct benefit they are entitled to. There are 3 different types of ESA – ‘new style’, contributory and income-related. The type people get depends on their circumstances and it is important they check their eligibility on GOV.UK before making an application. When people have established which type of ESA they are eligible for they need to follow the correct application process as outlined on GOV.UK to make sure they get the money they are entitled to as smoothly as possible. Please share this information within your organisation and with your audiences and customers.   
 Job Support Scheme expanded 
The Job Support Scheme has been expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions Under this expanded scheme, the Government will pay two thirds of employees’ salaries to protect jobs over the coming months. Cash grants available for businesses required to close in local lockdowns, have also increased to up to £3,000 per month. Find out more  
Warm Home Discount Scheme 
Nearly a million pensioners across the UK will automatically receive £140 off their fuel bills as a result of government working closely with energy firms to cut their costs. The deduction, called the Warm Home Discount Scheme, will be taken automatically from energy bills before March 2021, with most pensioners receiving their discounts between now and January. Further information can be found on GOV.UK.  
Call for evidence on in-work progression 
DWP is calling for evidence that will help contribute to future policy on in-work progression. The new consultation is open until 20 November and is seeking views on challenges to progression in low pay sectors, benefits of progression to employers and localities, and examples of good practice across the country. To find out more or to take part, please visit GOV.UK.
DWP Touchbase: 9 October 2020
October 12, 2020
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A roundup of recent DWP announcements  
Job Support Scheme expanded to firms required to close due to COVID Restrictions 
The Chancellor has announced that the government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions. Find out more 
New employment programme launched 
This week DWP has launched Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS), a new programme that will provide employment support for those out of work for three months. Those put forward for the scheme by their Work Coach, will have access to tailored, flexible support to help them quickly get back into employment. The new programme will offer a range of help, including specialist advice on moving into growing sectors, as well as CV and interview coaching. This will give jobseekers the boost they need to return to employment supported by an action plan agreed with their Work Coach, peer support and opportunities to build their skills. JETS will provide employment support to Universal Credit claimants in the all work related requirements group and New Style Jobseekers Allowance claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks. More information can be found at GOV.UK.  
Local employers join Kickstart 
Suffolk Libraries has become a Kickstart Scheme Gateway, supporting local employers in the area to take advantage of the new scheme creating job placements for young people. In this short clip you can find out why they joined the Kickstart Scheme. Any organisation can apply to become a Kickstart Scheme Gateway, including businesses, local authorities, trade bodies, Chambers of Commerce and charities. The Kickstart Scheme funds employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are claiming Universal Credit. Businesses applying for fewer than 30 positions over the lifetime of the scheme need to bid through a representative who will help them with their applications, ensure jobs are of a good quality and make sure that young people receive the right support. Find out more  
Green Homes Grant 
Applications are now open for the Green Homes Grant scheme. The scheme will give over 600,000 homeowners in England up to £5,000 to pay part of the cost of energy saving measures like insulation. Some homeowners on income-based or disability benefits may be eligible for vouchers covering the full cost of improvement, up to £10,000.   
 Materials are available to share with homeowners and tradespeople.
Covid-19: Government Launches £238m Scheme for Jobseekers

Jobseekers will be offered coaching and advice on moving into “growing sectors” as part of a £238m employment programme, the government has said.

Job Entry Targeted Support is aimed at helping those out of work because of Covid-19 for three months.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said it would give people “the helping hand they need”.

But Labour said the scheme “offers very little new support” and it was “too little too late”.

Last month, official figures showed that the UK unemployment rate had risen to its highest level for two years, with young people particularly hard hit.

The Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme will “boost the prospects of more than a quarter of a million people across Britain”, Ms Coffey said.

The Department for Work and Pensions says it is recruiting an additional 13,500 “work coaches” to help deliver the new scheme. 

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Coffey said JETS is aimed more at helping “adults beyond the age of 25” learn how their skills “can be used in different parts of the economy” – and she cited construction and care as examples of growing sectors. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the scheme would “provide fresh opportunities to those that have sadly lost their jobs, to ensure that nobody is left without hope”.

“Our unprecedented support has protected millions of livelihoods and businesses since the start of the pandemic, but I’ve always been clear that we can’t save every job,” he said.

“I’ve spoken about the damaging effects of being out of work, but through JETS we will provide fresh opportunities to those that have sadly lost their jobs, to ensure that nobody is left without hope.”

However, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, said: “By the government’s own admission at least four million people could lose their jobs during the crisis. All it can muster in response are piecemeal schemes and meaningless slogans.

“This new scheme offers very little new support and relies on already overstretched work coaches on the ground, while many of the new work coaches promised have yet to materialise.

“It’s too little too late again from a government that simply can’t get a grip on this jobs crisis.” 

‘Difficult trade-offs’

Mr Sunak is due to address the Conservative Party Conference later, saying the government has been faced with “difficult trade-offs and decisions” during the coronavirus pandemic.

He will say that while he cannot protect every job, “the pain of knowing it only grows with each passing day”.

Mr Sunak will say his “single priority” as chancellor is “to create support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can”. 

“We will not let talent wither, or waste, we will help all who want it, find new opportunity and develop new skills,” he is expected to say.

In an interview with the Sun ahead of his speech, Mr Sunak also defended his Eat Out to Help Out scheme after suggestions it may have helped fuel the second wave of coronavirus cases.

The chancellor said the scheme had helped prop-up two million jobs and that he had no regrets about paying for it.

Mr Sunak also strongly pushed back on the idea of further lockdowns, which he said would be detrimental not just to the economy but to society as well. 

“Lockdowns obviously have a very strong economic impact, but they have an impact on many other things,” he said.

On the 22:00 curfew on pubs and restaurants, Mr Sunak said ministers were implementing such rules “to try and nip this in the bud”, but he acknowledged it was “frustrating”. 

“Everyone is very frustrated and exhausted and tired about all of this,” he told the paper.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said her party had urged Mr Sunak to introduce a wage support scheme that incentivised employers to keep more staff on, but “he ignored these calls and now nearly a million jobs are at risk when the furlough scheme ends in a few weeks’ time”.

“When he speaks at Conservative Party Conference, Rishi Sunak must promise to get a grip of the jobs crisis before it’s too late,” she said.

“If he doesn’t, Britain risks an unemployment crisis greater than we have seen in decades – and Rishi Sunak’s name will be all over it.”