Employment: Disabled

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of John Barrett John Barrett Shadow Minister, International Development, Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to move people with disabilities from benefits to employment.

Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

holding answer 23 April 2008

This Department delivers a range of programmes aimed at helping disabled people remove the barriers that prevent them moving into paid work. During 2006-07, new deal for disabled people enabled over 45,000 people to move from an incapacity benefit to paid work. As of May 2007, 2.64 million people were receiving incapacity benefits, the lowest number for almost eight years. The caseload has dropped by nearly 140,000 since a peak in November 2003.

From October 2008, we are replacing incapacity benefits for new customers with the employment and support allowance. The new benefit, alongside a more robust medical assessment, will focus on what work a person can do, rather than what they cannot. We are also investing over £1 billion in our Pathways to Work programme in the next three years and from April 2008 everyone on incapacity benefits in Great Britain will have access to this programme.

The employment disadvantage experienced by disabled people has declined substantially over time. The difference between the employment rate for disabled people and the overall rate has narrowed from around 35 percentage points in spring 1998 to around 27 percentage points today. However, we know that disabled people are still disadvantaged in the labour market compared with other people. This is why we have significantly improved and extended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to provide greater protection for disabled people from discrimination in the fields of employment and occupation.

We recently undertook a public consultation on proposals to improve the specialist disability employment services, which includes WORKSTEP, Work Preparation, Access to Work, the Job Introduction Scheme and the Disability Employment Advisory service. These programmes collectively help substantial numbers of disabled people take up or retain paid work rather than resort to benefits.

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