Support for people with disabilities in Brighton and Hove to change

A supported business providing work opportunities for people with disabilities is likely to change to a rolling work placement programme.

Able and Willing, a printing and embroidery business, relies on financial support from Brighton and Hove City Council.

It was intended to be financially sustainable while supporting disabled staff to improve their skills and grow in confidence.

A report going before the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee next Monday (14 January) said that the print industry and promotions sector had declined in recent years.

Existing disabled staff can remain employed by the council and the budget will remain unchanged.

The report said: “The council’s aim for Able and Willing was for it to operate on a financially sustainable basis, being less reliant on council funding while still supporting disabled staff in gaining opportunities to grow their skills and confidence in the workplace.”

For 2018-19, Able and Willing is expected to overspend its £138,000 budget by £155,000.

In 2017-18 it overspent by £163,000 and in 2016-17 the overspend was £215,000.

On Monday the committee is being asked to approve making Able and Willing a rolling work placement programme, matching suitable placements within council services for candidates who are disabled.

The report going before the committee said: “This model is a work placement programme that matches suitable candidates with roles within the council.

“The candidates for this programme will have a disability and will be matched with a role that can accommodate their individual needs.”

The report added that the proposed changes would held disabled people to learn a wider range of skills and be open to more people, rather than just those interested in embroidery or printing.

People will be funded from the Able and Willing budget and not by the department managing them.

Able and Willing staff took part in a consultation in the autumn, with individual meetings held with all members of staff with support from human resources staff, unions and the Supported Employment Team.

Workers were told that changes would only be made after Monday’s meeting.

Most similar supported employment schemes elsewhere have long been scrapped.

The Children, Young People and Skills Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall next Monday (14 January). The meeting, which starts at 4pm, is open to the public.

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