Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:09 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 3:09 pm, 17th November 2016

The amount of money and how we spend it will be directed by, and based on, the needs of people who currently need the support. The situation was very different a few years ago, and it will not be like that. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Labour’s success in this territory, but I gently point out to him that the disability employment gap closed under Labour because unemployment rose. I gently say to him that a consensus on tone has been set this afternoon, and that is important.

I am going to do something unusual and make some asks of this House, although it is usually the other way around. If the Green Paper is to deliver all that it must, we must all play our part, whatever our political hue and on whichever side of the House we sit. All the organisations and experts in our constituencies need to be involved, too, including the patient and peer support groups that we are not currently engaged with, and all the organisations that Ian Mearns alluded to in the case of his constituent Simon, who faced a domino effect. I am grateful to Mark Durkan for alluding to the fact that we have a massive opportunity in the Green Paper, not only in terms of what we do for employers and healthcare, but for our own processes in the DWP.

We have designed the consultation process to facilitate discussion at a very local level, with facilitators’ packs and other support, and I ask all MPs to help to facilitate local meetings, bringing together organisations from across their constituencies. That way, we will get a good result from the Green Paper not just in the policies that will come out of it, but in starting local conversations about how it will work. On 5 December, we will hold an event in Parliament, where there will be a pack for every Member and every constituency to facilitate such dialogue.