Welfare Reform — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:04 pm on 10th December 2008.

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Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench 4:04 pm, 10th December 2008

My Lords, I strongly support the Government's policy of moving people from welfare into work, and accept the appropriateness of a degree of conditionality. However, is the Minister prepared to give the House three assurances?

First, on 25 November, I put it to the Minister that, in requiring people to take up work, it is essential to have regard to things such as the availability of accessible transport; the nature of the work itself; whether it is suitable for the person concerned, given things such as their impairment, previous career and work history; and whether it is reasonable to expect a person to take up a job that would lead to a fall in their family income. I think that the noble Lord was inclined to agree with me. Will he see to it that the legislation will prescribe that factors such as these are taken into account in requiring people to take up work?

Secondly, will the Minister see to it that the legislation includes provision for statutory assessment of a person's needs when they become disabled while in work, as called for by John Robertson MP in the Private Member's Bill that he introduced in another place? Those needs could then be taken more effectively on board by employers, with a view to enabling people to remain in work rather than fall out of the labour market. Thirdly, will the legislation remove what I think the Government recognise as the disgraceful anomaly whereby people with severe sight loss are precluded from claiming the higher-rate mobility component of DLA?