The Prime Minister has launched a document setting out how Government and employers can work together to unlock Britain's talent and help build a workforce with world-class skills. The launch featured no less than six Government Ministers underlining the importance attached to encouraging business to take a lead on delivering skills. Jointly published by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Ready to work, skilled for work describes the partnership Government wants to forge with employers to meet these challenges.
Peter Hain has announced his resignation as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions following the row over undeclared donations to his unsuccessful campaign to become Deputy Prime Minister. James Purnell, formerly the Culture Secretary, has been named as his successor. James Purnell has previously worked within DWP as the Minister for Pensions. It has also been announced that Caroline Flint has moved from DWP to become the Minister for Housing with Stephen Timms being named as the new Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform.
The Pension Service and the Disability and Carers Service are to be brought together into a single Agency - the Pension, Disability and Carers Service. The two existing Agencies increasingly share many of the same customers - over half of the customers of the Disability and Carers Service are also customers of The Pension Service and the proportion is growing as people live longer. Over time the new Agency will enable a better and more seamless service to be delivered to them.
DWP has published the second wave of qualitative research into employers and New Deal for Disabled People. The research paints a generally positive picture of close links between employers and job brokers, improved awareness, support with reasonable adjustments and a greater willingness to employ people with disabilities. The lack of financial support to employers was cited as a possible obstacle. More...
The biggest change in incapacity benefits since they were created has been unveiled by Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson in a bid to replace "sickness" culture with work focus. The reformed benefit aims to provide enhanced financial security for the most severely sick and disabled as well as more money than now for all those claimants who take part in work focused activity. Those who completely refuse to engage - failing even to attend interviews - will receive JobSeekers Allowance rates.
DWP has announced the areas to be covered by the expansion of the Pathways to Work initiative (see news story 3 December 2004). Phase 1 will include Cumbria; Glasgow; Lanarkshire West; Tees Valley by October 2005; Phase 2 will be in April 2006 and will cover Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster; Sunderland; County Durham; Lanarkshire and East Dumbarton; Liverpool and the Wirral; Manchester and Salford; Swansea and West Wales. Phase 3 in October 2006 will cover Eastern Valleys; Greater Mersey; and Staffordshire.