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Initiative to help adults with autism into work

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced a new government initiative that is aimed at helping over 2,000 adults with learning difficulties and autism into work. 

Grant funding will be provided to 24 local authorities, through the Local Supported Employment initiative. This funding will support between 60 and 140 adults with learning difficulties, autism, or both, per local authority area, helping them to move into competitive employment. 

The funding will represent an investment of £7.6 million over the course of the next three years, whilst also providing those it is helping to maintain the employment they have moved into. Job coaches will be provided to carry out vocational profiling, engage employers, and provide in-work support, with the aim of developing more careers. 

Chloe Smith MP, Minister for Disabled People, Health, and Work, said: 

“Disabled people deserve the same opportunities to start, stay, and succeed in employment as everyone else. 

“We know that those with autism and learning disabilities can face particular barriers to employment, which is why we’re spending £7.6m through the Local Supported Employment initiative. 

“We hope to break down those barriers and use local networks to help more disabled people reach their full potential.” 

The 24 local authorities to benefit from the £7.6 million in funding are made up of 22 in England and two in Wales, after a concept pilot in November 2017. The pilot ran for 18 months and was followed by a consultation process in which feedback was incorporated and helped design the initiative. 

The local authorities involved are: 

  • Cheshire East Council 

  • Gloucestershire County Council 

  • Barking and Dagenham 

  • Lincolnshire County Council 

  • Surrey County Council 

  • City of Cardiff Council 

  • The Council of the City of Wakefield 

  • Oxfordshire County Council 

  • Norfolk County Council 

  • Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council 

  • Leicester Council 

  • Cheshire West and Chester Council 

  • Tower Hamlets 

  • Salford Council 

  • Lancashire County Council 

  • Solihull County Council 

  • Durham County Council 

  • Southampton Council 

  • Hertfordshire County Council 

  • Pembrokeshire County Council 

  • Bradford Metropolitan District Council 

  • Sandwell Metropolitan District Council 

  • Barnsley MBC 

  • Kent County Council 

Other supported employment programmes have evidenced that at least 30% of the participants should start some form of work following the initiative, and this follows the success of the government hitting its target of seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027. Reaching the target five years early has prompted ministers to consider a new target, with the aim of bringing down the disability employment gap further. This is likely to come in the upcoming Health and Disability White Paper, due to be released in autumn. 

The government has a long-term ambition of providing further evidence to local authorities that supported employment can help drive further investment and secure effective employment for those with learning disabilities, autism, or both. 

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