Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 7th February 2022.
What steps she is taking to support autistic people into the workforce.
We are working with the National Autistic Society to test ways to make jobcentres more inclusive of people with autism; this test will inform changes to the wider jobcentre network. We encourage employers to consider autistic people for roles and can offer support where needed to Access to Work.
I thank the Minister for that response and the work she is doing. The Office for National Statistics highlighted back in November last year that, tragically, only 25% of autistic adults are in any form of meaningful employment despite record job vacancies. I am encouraged by the Minister’s additional steps, but what can we do to get the regional adjustments in place so employers really take this seriously?
There is a lot that we can do together and this is an effort for the Government, for employers and for others such as the National Autistic Society and the all-party group on autism, to which my hon. Friend gives a lot of time. He asks what we are doing: we are engaging with employers through the disability confident scheme; we are supporting jobseekers, workers and employers through Access to Work; and, as I have said, we are making our jobcentres and youth hubs inclusive in the way they ought to be.
My constituent has a range of conditions, including autism, which has left him with a mental age of 10. He underwent a telephone work capability assessment without a parent or guardian present, which resulted in a reduction in his employment and support allowance. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the case? What steps are being taken to ensure that autistic people and those with additional support needs are helped into work and not targeted in such a manner?
I would be happy to look in more detail at this case—or ask officials to do so—which appears to raise a number of issues. More generally, we are absolutely committed to supporting disabled people appropriately into employment that might be right for them. To do that, for example, there is more than £1 billion of funding in the spending review for disability employment. All our providers who conduct benefits assessments have training in a wide range of conditions so that they can properly support those whom they are working with.