Employment: Autism

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 12th April 2019.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to tackle the underemployment of people diagnosed with autism.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

DWP is committed to helping people with health conditions and disabilities, including autism move nearer to the labour market and, when ready, into work, by building more personalised tailored employment and health support.

The majority of DWP’s schemes and programmes are focused on helping people, including people diagnosed with autism, prepare for and enter work. For example:

  • The Work and Health Programme, which rolled out between November 2017 and March 2018, will support around 275,000 people over five years - the majority whom (around 220,000) will be disabled people who can volunteer for the programme at any time.
  • The new Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, which is due to be rolled out across England and Wales at the end of 2019, will provide highly personalised packages of employment support for people with both disabilities and complex barriers to employment who are considered by DWP work coaches to be more than 12 months from the labour market without intensive support
  • The Local Supported Employment proof of concept is currently exploring how we can combine central and local budgets to scale up delivery of Supported Employment locally. This initiative is designed to explore how a matched funding model could support people with a learning disability or autism who are known to adult social care, or who are in contact with secondary mental health services.

Disabled people who are already working, or who are about to enter work, can apply for in-work support from Access to Work scheme. The scheme has a Hidden Impairment Support Team that provides advice and guidance to help employers support employees with conditions like autism, as well as offering eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and help to develop a support plan.

In addition, DWP is engaging with employers through the Disability Confident scheme - supporting them to feel more confident about both employing disabled people, including autistic people, and supporting disabled employees to realise their potential. Over 11,500 employers have signed up to the scheme so far.

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