Employment: Disability

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Paul Farrelly Paul Farrelly Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help businesses increase access for disabled people to (a) apprenticeships and (b) jobs.

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

In respect of apprenticeships, we have undertaken a number of actions to improve access to apprenticeships for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. We have made British Sign Language (BSL) an alternative to English Functional Skills for those who have BSL as their first language and we have adjusted the minimum English and maths requirements for those who are able to meet the occupational standard of their apprenticeship but would struggle to achieve the regular English and maths minimum requirements.

It is encouraging to see that 36,900 apprenticeships were started by individuals with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in the first three quarters of 2018/9. This is 12.3 per cent of all apprenticeship starts and an increase from 11.5 per cent at the same point in 2017/18.

We continue our work with Mencap and our Pacesetters group, made up of a range of organisations and local authorities to identify what further support we can give those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

With regard to jobs help, we offer a range of programmes and schemes that offer employment support to disabled people. These include:

  • the Work and Heath Programme (WHP), which will help 275,000 people over 5 years, including 220,000 disabled people.
  • The Disability Confident scheme. Through this, we work with employers to change attitudes and create employment opportunities by giving businesses the tools and techniques to recruit and retain disabled people in their workplace. Over 13,600 employers are signed up to Disability Confident, and their number continues to grow.
  • Access to Work, which offers eligible disabled people a grant of up to £59,200 per year to fund support above the level of reasonable adjustments, to ensure that their health condition or disability does not hold them back in the workplace. Last year we spent £129 million on Access to Work grants, helping over 36,000 people stay in employment.

The Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme (IPES) will launch by the end of 2019. It will provide highly personalised packages of employment support for disabled people with complex and multiple barriers to work who are at least a year away from moving into work without the support on the programme.

Our Jobcentres offer tailored and personalised support from Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisers, backed by the Personal Support Package which is a 4-year, £330 million package of employment support targeted at claimants with disabilities and health conditions.

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