Unemployment: Disability

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 16th January 2023.

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Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that a) work coaches and b) disability employment advisors understand the barriers to employment faced by disabled people.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

DWP Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisers (DEA) undergo comprehensive learning to support customers with additional or complex needs, particularly disabilities, and they continue to build on this in the workplace through accessing point of need learning products.

The learning provides Work Coaches with the knowledge and skills to enable them to:

  • treat each claimant as an individual;
  • to be aware of and support, claimants with their disability and the impacts of their condition;
  • help overcome any barriers; and
  • support them into moving closer to the working environment.

Learning includes the DWP Fundamental Learning Journey which contains a number of training courses that cover disability awareness:

  • becoming Disability Confident - seeing past the misconceptions that can exist around disabilities and being able to have open, honest, and well-informed conversations with disabled colleagues in order to create, or contribute to, an inclusive work environment in which disabled colleagues can thrive;
  • helping customers who need additional support – working with customers who need additional support either because they are in a vulnerable situation, are disabled, or suggest suicide or self-harm, or requires additional customer service skills; and
  • vulnerable customers and complex needs.

Work Coaches are also signposted to tools, guidance support and websites to effectively use resources from both internal and external sites. This ensures that they access the most up to date advice and expertise on a particular health condition.

Similarly to the Work Coach, DEAs also undergo a complete learning journey, sharing the same objectives to support them when working with claimants who have disabilities or health conditions. The learning includes facilitated workshops, self-paced open learning, and e-learning. Our DEAs support Work Coaches with expert knowledge on how to support disabled customers, building the skills and capability of Work Coaches, and influencing employer engagement in local communities. They can also provide direct support to customers with a health condition or disability where additional support can benefit the customer.

In 2022, we introduced the Health Adjustments Passport (HAP) across the Jobcentre Plus network, following a period of testing in our Health Model Offices. The Passport is a tool used to capture potential workplace adjustments or in-work support needs of customers, and to identify those potential barriers to employment before the claimant is job-ready. Work Coaches have been trained by DEAs to support customers with health conditions or disabilities to complete the HAP. The Passport aims to enable effective conversations about workplace adjustments at an early stage in the customer's journey into work.

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