Aims of the strategy

It is proposed to close the current in-house provision and thereafter to externalise an ambitious supported employment offer to maximise the uptake of employment opportunities for people of working age with care and support needs known to People – Adults and Housing Directorate.

The provision of a supported employment service is not a statutory requirement of the local authority, and the directorate no longer has the expertise or infrastructure to successfully provide such a service. 

Whilst this equality impact assessment (EqIA) concerns the closure of the existing service it is pertinent to clarify that this decision is made within the context of an intention to improve the supported employment offer in due course.

The intention is to broaden the focus of the service from solely supporting people who have a learning disability to all adults with care and support needs. Moreover, we aim to facilitate a whole employment pathway – through training, work placement, voluntary work – rather than exclusively concentrate on paid employment as an outcome (although this should be the aim wherever possible). 

The service provider will be required to engage with local employers to raise awareness of the positive contribution that disabled people can make to their businesses, and in so doing will promote the Disability Confident Scheme or Disability Pledge. Nevertheless, the People - Adults and Housing Directorate needs to be mindful of its areas of responsibility in exercising its duties under the Care Act, and avoid straying into the areas of responsibility of other agencies – Access to Work for example.

Context to the proposal

The current service is not currently enabling Dorset residents who have a learning disability (who are the focus of the existing provision) to enjoy the opportunities for paid employment that are available in some other comparable local authority areas. The council is not offering a supported employment service to other adults with care and support needs. As a result, Dorset Council are not able to offer an employment pathway as a strengths-based alternative to more traditional ways of meeting care and support outcomes. 

Locally, we know that employment is important to people who have a learning disability and their families. The proposal links to the broader Better Days strategy and enablement pathways within the wider transformation programme that People – Adults and Housing Directorate are engaged in. There should be a strategic connection between this proposal and the ‘Pathways to Employment’ work that Children’s are undertaking. A business case sets out more detailed requirements of the new service provider.

Intelligence and communication

Data, information, evidence and research used and how it has influenced the decision-making process:

  • employment is one of the 4 ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ DfE key themes for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • good employment outcomes for adults with a learning disability reduce the risk of social exclusion, promote health and wellbeing, and therefore reduce demand on centralised services. There is a strong link between employment and enhanced quality of life

  • many of the better performing local authorities appear to have commissioned a specialist supported employment service and have given a priority to supported employment

  • Dorset is under performing in paid employment for people who have a learning disability in relation to many comparator local authorities, and to the regional average. For example the 2018-19 ASCOF 1E indicatorshows that Dorset reported performance of 5.6% (NB our actual performance Q1 20/21 performance is recorded internally as 4%) against a South West regional average of 6%, and reported performance of 8.9% in Devon, 8.2% in Shropshire, 7.1% in South Glos and 14.1% in N. Somerset.

  • there has been a steady decline in the numbers of referrals to the existing supported employment service over the last few years. In 2016 there were 45 referrals, in 2017 there were 38 referrals and there were 22 referrals in 2018. There were 8 referrals in 2019 and 4 in 2020
  • through the period 2019 to date only 1 referral has resulted in paid employment being achieved
  • of the people who live with a learning disability in paid employment (and ‘known to’ Dorset Council) there are a disproportionate number of males represented
  • for success to be achieved in supporting people with care and support needs into paid employment there needs to be a clear pathway from education and training to work experience and voluntary work
  • locally, we know that employment is important to people who have a learning disability and their families; People First Dorset and the Big Plan have identified the need to “Break down barriers to get into employment”
  • nationally and locally there is little evidence that people with care and support needs are using personal budgets to access employment. 2 key limiting factors are cited as professional attitudes of ‘staff’ and local authorities towards employment, and the availability of good, evidence-based employment support
  • a combination of a contracted employment service and personalised on-the-job support is most likely to lead to improved employment outcomes for people who have a disability

Further information needed to help inform this proposal

The consultation with colleagues currently engaged in providing a supported employment service (and who are at risk) will no doubt provide further information to help make sure that the proposal is the best possible fit for people with care and support needs in the Dorset Council area. There is a consultation plan, with timelines, at the end of this document within the action plan

As noted above, this EqIA concerns the proposal to close what is an ineffective service. It is intended that a new service will be co-produced with interested citizens

Engagement or consultation that has taken place as part of this EqIA

  • the 2018, engagement work for the Learning Disability and Mental Health Service Review emphasised the importance of employment

  • the Big Plan for Dorset (the workplan for the Learning Disability Partnership Board) is in development, but employment has been emphasised as a key theme by board members, including users by experience

  • the three colleagues employed within the service have been kept abreast of emerging plans to externalise the service, and their thoughts about this have influenced the business case. However, upcoming formal consultation is seen as a key activity in seeking to shape the best supported offer that we can

  • engagement with supported employment provider operating in an area with better supported employment (ASCOF1E) performance

Feedback

  • there will be a report back to the next Learning Disability Partnership Board; at present the board has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but further iterations will include a date as and when the following board meeting is arranged

  • there will be ongoing meetings and communication with affected colleagues

  • at the end of the consultation colleagues will obviously be informed directly about the outcome

  • internal communications to adult social care teams

  • revision of information on the Dorset Council website to reflect the closure of the service

Assessment

Impacts of the strategy

impacts table
Impacts on who or what? Effect Details
Age

Public: Neutral Impact 

Dorset Council colleagues: Unclear Impact 

Public: There is evidence that a number of all adults of 50+ years of age in the general population are experiencing unequal barriers to employment. The present service is ineffective in terms of addressing this inequality due to the modest outputs. 

Dorset Council Colleagues: Due to the very low number of colleagues involved, and the potential for identification of the colleagues, it is not appropriate to go into detail here.
Age bracket affected Dorset Council colleagues: Three employees are at risk and are aged between 40 -70+ n/a
Disability: (including physical, mental, sensory and progressive conditions)

Public: Neutral Impact 

Dorset Council colleagues: Unclear Impact

Public: In Dorset, according to the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework 2018-19 (ASCOF1E) – particularly when referenced to our latest internal performance reporting – we have not been able to facilitate paid employment for people who live with a learning disability in line with many of our comparator local authorities.

Dorset Council Colleagues: Due to the very low number of colleagues involved, and the potential for identification of the colleague, it is not appropriate to go into detail here

Does this affect a specific disability group? n/a

Public: The current supported employment offer is restricted to a small number of people who live with a learning disability. The service is ineffective in facilitating employment for adults with care and support needs. 

Dorset Council Colleagues: One colleague has a disability. However the proposal does not affect a specific ‘disability group’. 

Gender reassignment and gender identity Unclear No information has been declared as Dorset Council does not ask for this data, as such we are not able analyse as to whether there would be impact at this present time.
Pregnancy and maternity Neutral No impact identified for either the public or Dorset Council Colleagues.
Race and ethnicity

Public: Unclear Impact

Dorset Council Colleagues: Neutral Impact

Public: We have been unable to identify data regarding Dorset’s performance in relation to facilitating employment opportunities for people from ethnic minority groups who also live with a disability, but nationally in the whole population we know people from minority ethnic groups are twice as likely to be unemployed as a white person. Consideration should be given to exploring this gap in data in co-producing a new service. 

Dorset Council Colleagues: No impact identified.

Religion or belief / sexual orientation / marriage or civil partnership / rural isolation/ single parent families / armed forces communities Neutral

No impact identified for either the public or Dorset Council colleagues.

 Sex

Public: Neutral Impact

Dorset Council Colleagues: Neutral Impact

In 2018/19 Dorset reported (ASCOF1E) that 37 males and just 16 females of working age who live with a learning disability (‘known to’ the local authority) were in paid employment. The current service is ineffective in analysing and addressing this situation. 

Dorset Council Colleagues: 66% of the colleagues identify as female and 33% male, but given the very low numbers of colleagues involved (three) it is contended that the percentages are of limited statistical relevance; neither men nor women are discriminated against or disadvantaged through the proposal. 

Carers

Public: Neutral Impact 

Dorset Council Colleagues: Neutral Impact 

Carers UK report in their State of Caring 2017 survey that 40% of carers said they hadn’t had a day off for more than a year and 25% of carers said they hadn’t had a day off from caring for more than five years. Employment, as a key tenet of social inclusion, should lead to greater independence for people with care and support needs, and therefore less reliance on carers. However, the current service is ineffective in doing so. 

Dorset Council Colleagues: No impact identified 

Rural isolation

Public: Neutral Impact

Dorset Council Colleagues: Neutral Impact 

Rural communities are more reliant upon volunteers than urban communities. The current outright focus on paid work is a barrier to facilitating employment for people who live in rural communities and therefore the impact of closing the service is assessed as neutral. 

Dorset Council Colleagues: No impact identified.

Social and economic deprivation:

Public: Neutral Impact 

Dorset Council Colleagues: Neutral Impact

In Dorset there are some areas with clear indicators of social and economic deprivation; specifically in Weymouth. Given that that the current service is not effective in facilitating paid employment, a key issue in addressing multiple deprivations, the impact of closing the service is considered neutral. 

Key to impacts

impact description table

Type of impact Explanation of impact
Positive impact

The proposal eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and/or fosters good relations with protected groups.

Negative impact

Protected characteristic group(s) could be disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Neutral impact

No change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups.

Unclear

Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision.

Action Plan

action table

Issue Action to be taken Person(s) responsible Date to be completed by
Consultation

Preliminary consultation meeting with trade unions.

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

3 July 2020

Consultation

Issue formal consultation letter to trade unions.

Anna Lake

3 July 2020

Consultation

Invite trade unions and staff to consultation meeting(s).

Richard Christian

3 July 2020

Consultation

Consultation meeting with staff and trade unions.

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

9 July 2020

Consultation

Consultation period.

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

23 August 2020

Consultation

Respond to issues and revise plans as appropriate. Further meeting with Trade Unions/staff, if required.

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

23 August 2020

Consultation

Individual discussions with staff concerned if required during consultation period. Individual meetings to be arranged as required during the consultation period.

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

23 August 2020

Communication

Develop and execute plan to communicate closure of service to current and potential users and to internal and external stakeholders.

Richard Christian

13 September 2020

Implementation

Provide new point of contact for existing service users regarding any on-going employment issues.

Richard Christian

25 September 2020

Implementation

Any employees at risk – 13 weeks’ redeployment period during which notice will be issued in accordance with contractual/statutory entitlement.

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

24 August – 22 November 2020

End of change management process

End of formal notice period/redeployment period

Anna Lake and Richard Christian

22 November 2020

 Who has agreed this EqIA?

EQIA sign off table

Role Name Date
Officer completing this EqIA

Richard Christian

24 Aug 2020

Equality Lead

Susan Ward-Rice

26 Aug 2020

Equality & Diversity Action Group Chair

Dr David Bonner

26 Aug 2020

 

Diversity and Inclusion Officer - Dorset Council

Name: Susan Ward-Rice
Email: susan.ward-rice@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224368
Full contact details

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