February 2008

Workers employed at Glencraft in Aberdeen say they will fight a decision by Aberdeen City Council to withdraw annual funding of £650,000. Management at Glencraft said the withdrawal of funding means the factory, which employs dozens of disabled employees, could shut as early as April. Glencraft general manager Anthony Pratt told BBC Scotland it was "absolutely appalling" news.

DWP has published its new commissioning strategy. It sets out the Government's new strategic approach to the commissioning of employment programmes. It focuses on simplifying and rationalising the existing set of Welfare to Work contracts. The strategy also shows how the concerns of smaller organisations and charities will be addressed, to ensure that the department continues to utilise their expertise in helping those furthest from the labour market get back into work.

Ivan Lewis has announced a £27 million funding boost for social enterprises, increasing the amount of money available through the Department of Health's Social Enterprise Investment Fund to £100 million. The Social Enterprise Investment Fund supports the development of social enterprises in health and social care such as women's refuges, migraine clinics and exercise programmes for the elderly, which take account of and address the needs of a wide range of patients and services users, particularly the most vulnerable and excluded.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears is joining forces with business to take a more active role in supporting local community enterprise by providing free expert advice in return for involvement in projects that transform disused buildings into vibrant community centres. More...

James Purnell has spoken of the principles underlying welfare reform in a speech to the Social Market Foundation. You can see the full text on the website but he specifically spoke of disabled jobseekers when saying, "I also want us to ask whether we are doing enough to help disabled people into work. As we get more people in to work, we will release resources. Where do we need to improve the support we give to disabled people, so as to give them control over their lives, whatever their circumstances?

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, has called for all employers to do more to promote the health and well-being of their staff. He set out some key steps that employers and government must take:

  • First, employers taking steps to promote health and well-being in the workplace;
  • Secondly, government must work with employers to improve how we identify potential health risks - in particular around stress and mental health - and address these risks;

A review into the way benefit claimants are sanctioned will pave the way for a more flexible, graduated system which gives advisers more ability to impose sanctions on those claimants who break the rules, according to Secretary of state for work and pensions, James Purnell. Purnell said, "I've asked Lesley Strathie, Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, to lead a review which will include the sanctions applied to customers playing the system and how we might best use advisors' discretion in tailoring services to meet the needs of citizens.

Out-of-work 18-year-olds will have to undertake at least four weeks of full time work or face losing their benefits. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell, announced that from next April, every young person who has not been in employment, education or training for at least 26 weeks by their 18th birthday will be fast tracked to the intensive, Jobcentre Plus led, support and sanctions regime. They will have to prove that they are actively looking for work and engaging in work related activity - if they don’t their benefits will be stopped.

In January, the Government announced plans for transforming Britain’s labour market and this included the introduction of a more flexible New Deal. The Department of Work and Pensions has now placed a note on their website to alert the provider community of forthcoming procurement activity for the sourcing of this flexible New Deal provision.

Gordon Brown has set out plans for a new "contract out of poverty" that aims to reward families for meeting a range of citizenship targets. The Prime Minister said that the "benefit bonus" payments would be handed to deprived parents to allow families to escape "the daily injustices of poverty" as part of what he termed the Opportunity Revolution. Under the plans, alongside extra cash for getting a job and re-training, people could be rewarded for ensuring children attend school and visit the dentist regularly.

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