Endometriosis Workplace Support

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:42 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 3:42 pm, 29th October 2019

Thank you, Mr Pritchard. It is a real pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again for this important debate. I congratulate my right hon. Friend Alec Shelbrooke on securing this debate, which provides an opportunity to discuss this hugely important and overlooked condition.

It is clear that there is overwhelming cross-party agreement, with little to disagree with in the sentiment expressed. I am incredibly impressed with the references to digital engagement and with how most hon. Members who spoke have been personally contacted or have personal experience of the impacts. It was clear to see genuine emotion from people watching the debate, and that is because this genuinely matters.

It has been highlighted that this issue cuts across many Departments. I represent the Department for Work and Pensions, but there is clearly a big role for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in how employers are acting, for the Department of Health and Social Care on awareness and how long it takes to get the correct diagnosis, and for the Department for Education in raising awareness at a younger age, although it does see that there are positive steps. To ensure that nothing falls between the cracks, my Department recently moved the Office for Disability Issues to the Cabinet Office. We are still responsible, but it is based in the Cabinet Office so that on cross-cutting issues such as this it can be the eyes and ears, making sure that there is a joined-up approach.

I absolutely give a full commitment, on behalf of the DWP, that we will engage fully with the APPG review, to identify areas where we can improve awareness with our frontline staff, and improve how we handle benefits, support and everything that we can possibly do. We will also do everything we can to encourage the other three Departments, which I have no doubt will be just as willing to be proactive in this area. With the APPG’s helpful, constructive, proactive review, using the wealth of experience that is out there, hopefully together we can make a big difference.