Archive News Click on a topic below to read stories of interest to you. Partnership Working    Self Employment  Employment Support   Help for Disabled People   Employment Support Employment support for young people. Useful information about supporting young people who face disadvantages into employment Sickness needn't stop work. The Fit for Work service is now live across Great Britain and employers can refer employees to the free occupational health service (GPs have been using it for some months).  The scheme offers a £500 tax exemption to businesses per employee referred on medical grounds. Employers can make referrals using the online referral form available on the website Employees must give their consent to be referred. Worried about money? Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) Sanctions and how to avoid them. Financial Advice & Action Derbyshire (FAAD) have produced a useful leaflet advising people in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance how to avoid benefits sanctions, what to do if they are sanctioned and where to go for help. Fit For Work Goes Live Fit for Work  is designed to support people in work and help with sickness absence and provide an occupational health assessment and health and work advice to employees, employers and GPs.   The telephone advice service of Fit for Work was launched at the end of last year - visit www.fitforwork.org to find out what’s available and how to get in touch. This month, a referral service was launched in the Sheffield area, GPs can now refer eligible patients to an occupational health assessment, when they reach or are expected to reach four weeks of sickness absence. The service will be expanded across the county from spring 2015, drawing on lessons from the experiences and learning of the current Sheffield pilot.  Fit for Work is intended to complement, not replace, existing occupational health provision. It should be particularly beneficial to smaller businesses that have not previously had access to occupational health advice. As Fit for Work rolls out, employers will also start to see Return to Work Plans which can act as fit notes. Sign up to  receive updates and get prepared by reading the guidance. The Return-to-Work Plan service will be going live later in the spring, in a phased geographic roll-out; referrals will be made by GPs in the first instance, but later on employers will also be able to refer employees who have been signed off work for 4 weeks or more due to sickness.   The DWP's guidance is available here. Disability and Health strategy progress. The Government is celebrating initiatives underway to improve the employment rate of disabled people which they say is up by over 2%.  They quote the performance of the Work Programme and Work Choice plus the Disability Confident events that have resulted in 200 pledges from employers.  This is an optimistic start to what will need to be a long-term campaign and that will hopefully develop to recognise the contribution of the very large number of other local public, private and voluntary sector employment support organisations.  Read more here. Access to Work. This is Government support for people with long-term health conditions and disabilities who work (in jobs and self-employment).  There have been a wide range of issues with this scheme over about the last year and a Parliamentary Select Committee has recently reported and made many recommendations  An important element is that people who are not happy with decisions made by ATW can ask for reconsiderations and can escalate their disputes to the Independent Case Examiner and the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman  DWP has launched two portals to help employers and employees on their way to being Disability Confident.  The Employers' Portal  improves access to information for employers on the benefits of employing disabled people. The Young Person's Portal  gives young people, and those who work with them, the information they need to get the job they want. If you would like to get involved in year two of the campaign, please contact the team via email: dwp.disabilityconfident@dwp.gsi.gov.uk Disability information. You can get Government information covering: Benefits and financial help. Carers. Disability equipment and transport. Disability rights. Work and disabled people. Go to: https://www.gov.uk/browse/disabilities Finding help with finances or debt. The Money Advice Service has launched this directory so that anyone can type in their location and instantly find local organisations that give free advice on managing finances and dealing with debt. It’s official: work is good for you. Professionals like Occupational Therapists have echoed what many of us know: work doesn’t just improve your finances but can make you happier and healthier too.  Bolsover District Council and the Bolsover Partnership have put this message at the heart of their new Help to Work initiative showcasing what free employment-related support is available locally in their on-line directory: www.helptowork.org.uk. One of the local projects offering self-employment assistance for disabled people has been asking clients about taking part in the Work for Yourself programme: 80% said that their quality of life had improved. 74% said that their health had improved. 100% said that they feel more optimistic about the future. Talking about work, the College of Occupational Therapists' website says: “It helps your physical and mental wellbeing by giving you a sense of worth. But if you are off work, it can be much harder to return, especially if you are absent for a long period of time. Extended periods away from work are often linked to long term illness, leading to reduced income, which can cause social isolation as well as deprivation.“  Information about the different types of support, job vacancies, events, training and more is also on the Help to Work Facebook and Twitter pages – and anyone can sign up for personal emails.  “It’s a good way to keep in touch with news about specialist support for young people, for anyone with a health condition or disability or just someone who wants a helping hand to get back to work,” said Penny Melville-Brown, project lead, “The figures speak for themselves, so simply contact us at info@helptowork.org.uk and join our network.  We are also running a series of events to help all our partner organisations work more closely together and so provide the best service to local residents.” The Government is also introducing more occupational health support later this year through the new Health and Work Service in England and Wales with easier access to assessments and on- line information. Like Help to Work on Facebook and follow them on Twitter Government’s Help to Work initiative. You may have heard the announcement on 28 April about new mandatory support for people who leave the Work Programme without getting jobs.  It will include daily attendance at Jobcentres, community work placements or intensive Jobcentre support.  People who don’t take part may risk losing their benefits.  Although the announcement only mentions JSA claimants, many are likely to be people with long-term health conditions/disabilities.  Click here to read the full announcement. People with learning disabilities want jobs too. Fewer than 10% of adults with a learning disability living with their family have a paid job, when the truth is an increasing number of people with learning disabilities would like to work. The impact of employment on an individual’s self-esteem, independence and sense of purpose is well known, and this guide will allow family carers to help their relatives overcome the barriers and secure a rewarding working life. Getting a Job, written by Dave Barker, a family carer at the National Valuing Families Forum, provides vital information on where to find support, simple and achievable top tips and a practical action plan to get started. Apprenticeships for disabled people. ‘Into Apprenticeships’, written by and for disabled people includes individuals’ stories of the experience of doing an apprenticeship as well as practical tips and information on how to secure the opportunity. For full detail go to: disabilityactionalliance.org.uk and click on News. Partnership Working Join the Disability Action Alliance. With disabled clients being such a prevalent group locally, it makes sense to join this group and demonstrate your commitment (no cost and no effort!).  I have attached the declaration that covers the group’s mission, values, priorities and membership agreement.  You can find out more by contacting the Alliance via their website or e-mailing fulfilling.potential@dwp.gsi.gov.uk DPULO database The DPULO database is live!  It lists organisations which are run by and for disabled people. They define user led for organisations in England as those which have voting representation by Disabled people at board level of 75% or more, or organisations that are actively working toward that level of representation. Partnerships are the way forward and effective partnerships are based on power-sharing. These are the central themes of a recent report on joint working amongs European organisations helping people to get jobs.  It goes on to say that “partnership building should be a clearly designed objective of Public Employment Services (PES)” - in the UK, this means the Department for Work and Pensions.  To be effective, such partnerships need to have “close collaboration with multiple equap partners and joint decision-making”.  Hence the report highlights that, while a partnership may include contractual relationsuops, a contract does not make a partnership. The paper’s partnership principles also apply to the Department’s new Disability and Health Employment Strategy when it reports: “Local labour market offices confirm the need for collaboration: 79% of local labour market offices agree that there are vulnerable groups that they have trouble targeting (OECD LEED 2011)” Overall, both the Department and others concerned with employment support or partnership development may find useful learning from the report’s conclusion and check list annex. Is employment support and funding being sufficiently targeted at areas with greatest need? The Government (Department for Work and Pensions) issued a press release on 19 February that understandably celebrates the continued rise in employment figures.  It’s excellent news for many people but the data does indicate that even more effort may be needed to help people with long-term health conditions and disabilities. This is especially relevant to our work supporting this client group with our Work for Yourself programme in Bolsover District and Chesterfield Borough. We have been reviewing the updated Government (NOMIS) figures showing the percentages and numbers of the working age populations in various areas across the country who are claiming the main out-of-work benefits.  With our knowledge of the issues facing the population in Bolsover District, we took those local numbers as our starting point. It is great news that the percentage of the Bolsover District working age population claiming those benefits has reduced from 13.5% to 12.9% (comparing NOMIS figures from May and August 2013).   Chesterfield Borough has seen a similar reduction: from 13.9% to 13.5%.  And there are reductions across most other areas. However, ignoring the numbers of people with long-term health conditions/disabilities claiming JSA in both May and August 2013, there is a marked change in the ratio of JSA claimants to ESA/IB Claimants in both areas.  In May 2013, there were 2.8 ESA/IB claimants for each JSA claimant in Bolsover District and this rose to 3.1 by August 2013.  Again, a similar change occurred in Chesterfield Borough: 2.3 ESA/IB claimants for each JSA claimant in May 2013, increasing to 2.6 by August that year. We took the Bolsover District percentage of the local working age population claiming the key benefits (12.9%) as a baseline and looked at other areas in the East and West Midlands, South Yorkshire and Humber, North West and North East – and identified those with the same or higher percentages.  Having selected those areas, we then looked at the ratios of JSA to ESA/IB claimants and found that only three had a ratio of 1:3 or higher: Bolsover (3.1), East Lindsey (3.3), Hyndburn (3.1). There were more with a ratio of 1:2-2.9:  three in the East Midlands ( Chesterfield, Mansfield and Ashfield); one in the West Midlands (Stoke-on-Trent); two in Yorkshire and Humber (Barnsley and Wakefield); two in the North East (County Durham and Sunderland); thirteen in the North West (Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Pendle, Rochdale, St Helens, Tameside, Wigan, Wirral). Finally, we looked at the top 4 of 326 areas in England identified by the 2011 Census for having the highest percentages of people with limitations in the whole population (East Lindsey, Blackpool, Tendering and Bolsover).  Of these, only East Lindsey and Bolsover District had ratios of over 1:3 with the remaining two in the second band (1:2-2.9). We would suggest that, where there are very high ratios, there is particular need for proportionate deployment of employment support and funding focussed on disabled people who are not working.  In such areas, their preponderance is likely to have effect on local attitudes, work motivation and aspiration plus employers’ perceptions.  Hence, there may be a risk of self- perpetuating low employment levels for this group. Self Employment Work for Yourself client features in BBC TV programme. David Harding is one of the local disabled people supported to start his own business by the Work for Yourself project.  He has just starred in the BBC TV ‘Saints and Scroungers Programme – prompting disabled people from all over the country to ring seeking similar support. Invest to grow. Funding support for small and medium sized private businesses   (including sole traders, partnerships and social enterprises) in the East Midlands.  The programme is aimed at growth sectors such as transport equipment manufacturing, medicine/bio-science, construction, food and drink manufacturing, logistics, low carbon, although this is not an exhaustive list.  Check website for more details. Self-employment and Working Tax Credits. We have been seeking clarification about how WTC will work for self-employed disabled people and have just received this information from HMRC: "The Autumn Statement 2014 announced the introduction of a ‘genuine and effective work test’ to ensure that only people meeting the conditions of tax credit entitlement are able to benefit.  In the 2015 Budget the Government has announced that, after further consideration, a revised test will be applied so that in order to qualify for WTC a self-employed claimant will need to be carrying on an activity which is “commercial” and “profitable” or working towards profitability, and is organised and regular. The test will be applied to the working hours requirement used to qualify for working tax credit as a self-employed claimant.  The working hours requirement will vary between 16 and 30 hours depending on a claimants circumstances in line with the current working tax credit rules. The hours requirement is 16 hours for those entitled to the disability element of working tax credit.    If earnings from self-employment fall below an amount equivalent to the working hours requirement x National Minimum Wage (NMW) per week, claimants may be asked to provide evidence to HMRC that their work is commercial and profitable, organised and regular.    HMRC may ask to see business records and, or further supporting documents such as a business plan, future cash flow and profit projections, trade specific documents or information on what work there is in the pipeline.” Newly self-employed will need to demonstrate how they intend to carry on their self-employment  on a commercial basis and how their self-employment  will become profitable, organised and regular. The revised test aligns more closely with principles already established in tax case law on whether a person is self-employed and also the self-employment test used for both Tax Free Childcare and Universal Credit." It will be important that whoever is helping you with business start-up (mentoring, advising, coaching) is aware of this and helps you put together the business plans etc to show how your business will be profitable etc. Get the most out of Information Technology (IT) for your business. The e-business club has received great reviews for excellent free training and seminars for Derbyshire-based businesses: from DIY websites and e-mail marketing to using social media to reach and keep your customers.  We strongly recommend having a look at the great workshops on offer over coming months. Self-employment for people with long-term health conditions and disabilities. Take a look at the evaluation report on our latest year of running the Work for Yourself programme.  It is proving particularly effective in engaging people who have been out of work for over two years (so significant for those leaving the Work Programme) and for people with no/low qualifications.  We are still not convinced that other business start-up support (such as the New Enterprise Allowance initiative) is sufficiently tailored and personalised to succeed with clients who need additional help.  Alternative provision for disabled people is very patchy across the country yet self-employment is booming and working disabled people are more likely to be self- employed than others.  All of this suggests that we start businesses despite the lack of assistance rather than with it. Self-employment booming. There has been a large rise in the number of self-employed people in the UK during recent years: Self-employment has been about five times more popular and possible than getting a job. About a quarter of the increase in self-employment is due to people moving out of unemployment. There are now about 4.5 million of us - about 1 in 7 of the workforce.  The proportions of self-employed older people and women have increased too A recent Resolution Foundation report says that "Growth in self-employment has far outstripped the growth in employed jobs in the UK since the start of the recession. Between 2008 (March–May) and February 2014, self-employment grew by 666,000 while employees increased by 133,000" and that about  "a quarter of the overall growth since the recession is due to an increase in the numbers moving from unemployment into self-employment.” It appears that self-employment is a matter of choice rather than necessity.  The report suggests that "widespread self-employment is becoming a fixture of the UK labour market and that recent growth in self-employment cannot simply be explained by workers settling for 'second best' during the years of economic downturn" and that "the report finds that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of those who have become self-employed in the last five years say doing so was mainly or partly their personal preference". Although there has been a fall in the earnings of self-employed people, this will be partly due to more working fewer hours - more are putting off retirement but opting to work part-time.  And some of the more recent businesses will still be finding their feet. The report, ‘Just the Job or a Working Compromise? The changing nature of self-employment’ by Conor D’Arcy and Laura Gardiner was published by the Resolution Foundation on Tuesday 6 May.  You can read the press release about the report and how to obtain it at http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/press/just-the-job/  Help for Disabled People Keep in touch with national equality issues. Check out trends in discrimination cases Improvements for disabled sports fans. The Government has been finding out about the experiences of disabled people at sport venues and issues  faced by those venues to produce the “Inclusive and Accessible Stadia Report” .   The situation is not great but action is in hand: All Premier League clubs will ensure their stadia meet the standards set out in the Accessible Stadia Guide by August 2017 and make sure they provide an appropriate number of wheelchair spaces in their away seating areas. The report lists sources of help and advice for sport clubs. The Sports Grounds Safety Authority has published a supplement to its Accessible Stadia guidance setting out good practice to help sports understand their obligations to disabled supporters. Let’s just hope that better help to get back to work will enable all these people to afford the tickets! Work related stress, anxiety, relationship difficulties or other mental health issues? If you live in Derbyshire, you can have free use of Online support through Big White Wall which has already helped more than 30,000 people, including thousands from the UK armed forces community.  Big White Wall offers free, safe anonymous online support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of your own home. There is also a choice of safe therapeutic services available on-line  including self-help courses. Big White Wall is available to all Derbyshire residents aged over 16: visit www.bigwhitewall.com  and enter your Derbyshire postcode to access the service. 95% of members report feeling better as a result of using Big White Wall, and 73% share something for the first time. This YouTube link shows how the Big White Wall works. Have 5 years of the Equality Act made any difference for disabled people? Just imagine: taking a trip in to town to do some shopping, catch a movie, do an evening class and more ; looking for some help to get back to work, improve your skills, find a job and succeed at interviews; attend a routine health screening, get the treatment and drugs you need; get through the criminal justice system, the sentence and the aftermath. Now imagine trying to do this with a long-term health condition/disability – perhaps being in constant pain or having limited mobility, having virtually no sight or hearing,  being unable to take in complicated information or feeling so wretched that it is all too difficult.  The Equality Act aimed to improve all of this and more but there are still lots of indicators that disabled people come off worse than others. Share your experiences (good and bad) with the new House of Lords Equality Act 2010 and Disability Select Committee  - they have asked for written evidence by 4 September : http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/equality-act-2010- and-disability/news-parliament-2015/call-for-evidence/ The Committee has been established to look at the provisions and implementation of the Equality Act 2010 in relation to how it serves disabled people. Replacement of DLA with PIP. DLA is ending for people who were aged between 16 and 64 on 8th April 2013. For the past 18 months, The Department for Work and pensions (DWP)  has been inviting some existing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants with fixed term awards, those reaching age 16 or those reporting a change in circumstances, to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The final stage of this ‘natural reassessment’ activity is due to begin on 27 July.  On 25th June, ministers announced that the Department will be rolling out the final phase of PIP - the reassessment of all remaining people on DLA. This will start on a small scale from 13th July with 3,000 claimants chosen at random from postcodes in the North-West and Midlands as follows: Blackburn (BB), Bolton (BL), Derby (DE), Leicester (LE), Manchester (M), Oldham (OL), Preston (PR), Stoke on Trent (ST), Warrington (WA) and Wigan (WN). DLA claimants do not need to take any action to claim PIP until they are told to do so by DWP. Impact for local organisations.  When claimants start to receive the notification they may contact your organisation to ask for help in: • deciding whether they should claim PIP • making the initial claim for PIP • completing the Part 2 form about how their condition affects them in their daily living. You may also get contacted by claimants who are worried about what this means for them and why they haven’t been contacted by DWP.  There is more information about PIP on Gov.UK within the PIP Toolkit. Influence Disability Action Alliance projects. This group sponsored by DWP (Office for Disability Issues) are looking for more people/organisations to contribute to: Public Appointments - Increasing disabled peoples’ opportunities to take up public appointments. Physical Activity and Sport - Improving engagement between disabled people and sport and physical activity providers, to increase opportunities for participation. What helps disabled people work; by disabled people - Identify and share good practice in employment support. DWP phone numbers. As more people are using mobile phones, DWP is progressively switching from 0845 to 0345 numbers.  Calls to 0345 numbers cost no more than a standard geographic call, and count towards any free or inclusive minutes in landline or mobile phone contracts.  All the new numbers are listed here. Technology can make a real difference for people with health conditions. The E-Access bulletin is a free newsletter which covers masses of different ways technology can make every day life easier: from accessible websites and TVs through audio-description to switching on the lights at home.  It is a great guide to equipment and technology that is being developed and sources of more help and information – worthwhile whether you might want to use the technology or improve how your organisation provides services to disabled and other people. To subscribe to this free monthly bulletin, email eab-subs@headstar.com with 'subscribe eab' in the subject header. You can list other email addresses to subscribe in the body of the message. Disability Living Allowance can’t be counted as income when local Councils calculate Discretionary Housing Payments. Councils are reviewing their Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) policies after a disabled couple won a landmark case against Sandwell Council. The High Court overturned Sandwell Councils decision to offer lower DHPs to the 'bedroom tax' hit couple, as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) payments had been included in income calculations. Read the full article here  HMRC help for customers who need extra support. If you have particular difficulties dealing with HMRC about tax credits or your tax affairs, there is now a specialist team to help either on the phone or in person.  The details are attached.  You just need to ring one of the usual numbers: Self Assessment - 0300 200 3310 tax credits - 0345 300 3900 Child Benefit - 0300 200 3100 Income Tax - 0300 200 3300 National Insurance - 0300 200 3500 tax for employers - 0300 200 3200 VAT - 0300 200 3700 the Construction Industry Scheme - 0300 200 3210 HMRC online services - 0300 200 3600  (See www.gov.uk and click on Contact HMRC). You can tell the operator that you need extra help or they may suggest it.  Then they will transfer you to one of the specialists who can work with you direct or bring in another HMRC expert to help with your call.  If your issue can’t be sorted out during the call, the specialist will keep in contact until it is resolved.  And, if a visit is needed, they will arrange one if you are happy to do so – or you can request a visit at: https://www.gov.uk/dealing-hmrc-additional-needs. If you are already being helped by a local organisation, they can also be involved once they have registered here