Work and Pensions
Jim Murphy (Minister of State (Work), Department for Work and Pensions; East Renfrewshire, Labour)
We already have powers to offer training to disabled people in receipt of incapacity benefit through New Deal for Disabled People and Pathways to Work. Pathways to Work will be rolled out nationally by April 2008, primarily via the private and voluntary sectors in 60 per cent. of the country. Contracts will not specify exactly what programme of support should be available, enabling providers to offer innovative work-focused support which is tailored to the needs of individual customers and could potentially include self employment training.
Further assistance may also be available from Jobcentre Plus, which offers a wide range of practical and financial help to assist customers, such as career development loans. Specially trained personal advisers are available to discuss with customers any barrier that is preventing them from starting self-employment. They also provide a booklet 'Work For Yourself' which gives advice and information on starting a small business or arranging a franchise.
They are also able to give advise on further sources of support; including The Prince's Trust, Business Link, Training for Work in Scotland and Work Based Learning in Wales.
In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) offers a wide range of small business support information and packages, including a small suite of grants, loans guarantees and subsidised consultancy to address a range of business issues. They also have information about finance and grants for starting up and developing a small business and can provide practical support for the key stages of innovation or research and development and helps businesses to become more efficient, competitive and profitable.