Work: People with Disabilities

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th October 2018.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 12:00 am, 15th October 2018

What steps the Government are taking to help people with disabilities into work.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We support disabled people into work through a wide range of initiatives, including our £500 million Work and Health programme and the £330 million personal support package, and Access to Work supported over 25,000 people last year. I had meetings all through the summer with our Work and Health Programme providers, including Reed in Partnership in Yorkshire, and I saw fantastic work being done to take a health and wellbeing approach to enable people back into work.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

Many employers have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme—as I have—to ensure that disabled people have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and employers can choose from a wider selection of talent available. I am now encouraging businesses in Harrogate and Knaresborough to sign up. Will the Minister join me in encouraging employers right across our country to sign up to this impressive initiative?

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for his fantastic leadership in his constituency. I am delighted to say that hundreds of employers are signing up every week to the Disability Confident scheme, with more than 8,300 having signed up in total, including well over 800 in his own constituency. Many Members have taken up the community challenge, and it is not too late for those who have not participated. I encourage everyone to help people to sign up to be disability confident.

Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Labour/Co-operative, Manchester Central

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, but I am afraid that I am not smiling about the Minister’s replies, because they are so far detached from the reality that many of us are seeing on the frontline. She will know that those facing a change in circumstance are not protected by the transitional protections. This is affecting dozens of disabled constituents of mine, such as Dean, who has lost £300 a month, having lost his disabled premium going from tax credits to universal credit, and Erica, who has now built up £5,000 of overpayments due to the same thing. The principles of universal credit are now in tatters—it is not helping people to work. When will the Government review this?

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I am afraid that the hon. Lady is completely wrong. We have put in place transitional protection for people on the severe disability premium; under our new regulations, that protection is now there.