Archive for October, 2011

HomeSwap Direct scheme launched

HomeSwap Direct scheme launched


A new national scheme has been launched by Housing Minister Grant Shapps, which will allow social housing tenants wanting to swap their home to see every available property in the country.

This may enable tenants to move house in order to find a new job, or move to a property which is better suited to their needs and that of their family. Allowing tenants to see a much wider selection of properties than ever before provides greater choice for potential swaps



The scheme will be online, and so this will make advertised swaps much more accessible for tenants and the possibility of moving house ‘just a click away’.

Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the home swap system is expected to not only bring economic benefit for tenants and their families by putting them in a position to take up more opportunities, but could also help provide overcrowded families with new opportunities to move into a larger home, swapping with other tenants whose children have moved on and now need a smaller property easier to heat and maintain.

Grant Shapps said:

“It’s crazy that some people don’t want council tenants to have the same life opportunities as everyone else. At the moment tenants who live in social homes might be able to move nearby, but there’s almost no chance of a longer-distance move to take up a new job offer or move closer to their family.

“I’m not content to restrict opportunities for the eight million social tenants in this country – that’s why we are determined to shake up the lazy consensus that traps people in this system. HomeSwap Direct will give tenants access to a wider range of properties than ever before, and the chance to move anywhere in the country.

Read more

Website: Communities and Local Government


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support


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100 new jobs created in Stoke-on-Trent

Victorian pottery to be saved and 100 new jobs created in Stoke-on-Trent

A project to save the last working Victorian pottery in the UK and create more than 100 new jobs in Stoke-on-Trent has secured commitments to receive £5 million of government and private funding.

Middleport Pottery, in Burslem, was acquired by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust in June when it was at serious risk of closure. The project will benefit from £1.7 million of investment from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. This will help refurbish the site into a centre maintaining traditional manufacturing skills, a space for artists and a visitor centre. The project is expected to help drive wider regeneration of the Burslem area.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“I’m pleased we’re able to support the Prince’s Regeneration Trust project through the Regional Growth Fund. This will provide a great boost to the economy in Stoke-on-Trent and create more employment in the area.

The £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund uses public money to fund projects which will create long term jobs, sustainable growth and boost the local economy. The first round of the fund has provisionally awarded £450 million to 50 projects across the country, leading to the creation of 27,000 jobs and more than 100,000 additional supply chain jobs.

Applications for money for the second round of the fund closed on 1 July. Bids are currently being considered by ministers. An announcement on the successful bids in the second round is expected shortly.

Click here for summary details of the bids received in both rounds

Source: BIS

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Changes to Remploy feared  

There are growing concerns that Remploy may close many of its factories across the country if it loses vital Government funding.

Funding currently comes from the Department of Work and Pensions which gives £63m in support which works out at around £23,000 a year for every employee – this figure, and the cost is however subject to interpretation.

However, ministers are considering radical changes to the way the firm is funded after the government-commissioned Sayce review said,

“government funding should be invested in effective support for individuals, rather than subsidising factory businesses”.

The review also recommended the closure of factories which were “not viable”.

Public consultation on the Sayce Report is now closed and the Department of Work and Pensions is beginning to read through the responses before the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller.

No final decision has been reached but she has already said she is “attracted” to its recommendations whilst insisting that the consultation is meaningful.

Click here for the Sayce report

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DWP statistical release: Work Capacity Assessments

The latest official statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions reveal there has been an increase in the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants going into the support group. For ministers, this indicates that the changes the Government made to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are making a difference and more people are getting long term unconditional support.

For all new ESA claims from 30th October 2008 to 28th February 2011, the result of the initial Work Capacity Assessment is as follows:

  • Support Group – 7%
  • Work Related Activity Group – 17%
  • Fit for Work – 38%
  • Claim closed before assessment complete – 36%
  • Assessment still in progress – 2%

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

“We are seeing an increase in the number of severely disabled people being given long-term unconditional support, which shows that our reforms to the work capability assessment are starting to work.
“However, it’s clear that the majority of new claimants to sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. For those that need additional help our new Work programme is up and running and will tailor support to people’s needs so that they can overcome whatever barriers they face.”

Changes have been made to the Work Capability Assessment include simplifying the language of the criteria, making greater provision for people awaiting courses of chemotherapy and people with certain communication and mental health problems, as well as taking greater account of how an individual has adapted to their condition or disability.

Read the statistical release summary

Read the full statistical release

Click here for the tables


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Cancer patients take financial hit

Cancer charity Macmillan have presented statistics from a survey they commissioned, revealing that cancer patients are fighting both cancer and financial hardship as a result of their diagnosis.

Key findings based on 1,495 cancer patients who took part in the survey.

–         70% of cancer patients are hit financially through increasing costs and lost income as a direct result of their disease

–         66% reported an increase in costs as a result of travelling to hospital and/ or an increase in household expenses.

–          17% of those financially affected have been forced to cut back on everyday essentials such as buying food

–         5% skip meals to save money

–         7% are scared of losing their home.

–         29% of those financially affected have spent all or some of their savings

–         9% have borrowed money to cover the additional costs of cancer.

–         43% of all cancer patients surveyed are anxious due directly to their financial situation.

All of these statistics show the situation before welfare cuts and so the situation for cancer patients is likely to worsen as 7,000 cancer patients stand to lose up to £94 a week due to changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Click here to read more



Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Vince Cable announced employer led projects as part of the Growth and Innovation Fund

Following the first round of applications to the £50m Growth and Innovation Fund, innovative proposals to deliver world class training in seven leading industries have been selected for further development.

  • Business planning will now get under way for a new National Skills Academy for Health, which will be led by the Skills for Health Sector Skills Council.
  • Plans are being developed for existing National Skills Academies to be expanded, with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear embracing nuclear manufacturing and the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills expanding into the jewellery, design and heritage industries.
  • Specific projects with joint employer and public funding are being initiated to boost specialist skills in the fitness and playwork industries.

The above projects will draw on joint funding from employers and the Government, via the Skills Funding Agency.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable said:

“This Government wants business to lead the creation of a world class skills system. I’m pleased that employers have responded by coming forward with innovative ideas for the Growth and Innovation Fund. The fund will target public money, investing alongside business, to deliver workforce skills in new and creative ways.”

Click for more information about the Growth and Innovation Fund

Website: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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A third of disabled children turned away from holiday childcare

A survey by two charities, Kids and Mencap, has found that childcare costs are so high that they are preventing parents from having a break during holidays.

The survey of 1,192 parents of disabled children from across England, found that two-thirds of families found it “difficult” or “very difficult” to find suitable childcare for their disabled child this summer.

For the year, the cost of childcare for disabled children was found to be dramatically higher than average. 20% of survey respondents said they faced up to £11,700 per year in childcare costs, compared to the national average of £5,028.

The survey found that one in 10 disabled children were refused childcare places because of their impairments.

The ability for parents of disabled children to work, was questioned in the survey. The main finding was that 43% said they were unemployed as a result of the child care being both too expensive and not appropriate for their child.

Kevin Williams, chief executive of Kids, “Caring for disabled children without the right support can have significant consequences for a whole family, not just a disabled child,” he said. “The effect can be profound: disabled children lose out on opportunities to socialise with peers, relationships between parents can become strained or even break, and siblings or other family members may take on additional caring responsibilities.”

Click to read the survey

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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