To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the requirement for all non-medical help providers to offer face-to-face support on (a) providers who are unable to offer face-to-face support, (b) sole traders who can only provide face-to-face support in one location and (c) users who require out of hours and weekend support.
24 January 2022
Students in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance can choose to have their non-medical help sessions either face-to-face or remotely (for example by video call). We therefore expect all non-medical help suppliers to be able to provide either face-to-face or remote non-medical help sessions, or a mixture of the two, as the student chooses. The department confirmed this to the sector in July 2021 and more information is available here: https://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/media/1887/ssin-0721-new-arrangements-for-remote-support-202122.pdf.
In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and providers who are unable to offer face-to-face support, the department considered the impact of this policy on non-medical help suppliers who were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Following this, we announced in December 2021 that there would be an exemption to this policy for non-medical help sole traders who have received specific clinical advice from a medical professional not to engage in face-to-face work for reasons relating to COVID-19. Further details of this exemption and how to apply for it can be found here: https://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/media/1913/update-on-arrangements-for-remote-support_ssin_december-2021_final.pdf.
With regard to sole traders who can only provide face-to-face support in one location, sole traders are able to specify in which regions they can offer non-medical help support in their listing on the department’s register of suppliers here: https://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/exchange-blog/2020/september/10092020-guidance-for-nmh-suppliers/. We require non-medical help suppliers, including sole traders, to be able to provide both face-to-face and remote support in the regions for which they are listed. Apart from that it is a matter for the supplier to decide in which regions they wish to operate.
Regarding users who require out of hours and weekend support, students have a choice between face-to-face and remote support. If students require out of hours and weekend support, and would prefer this to be remote, then they can request remote support from their non-medical help supplier.