DWP shares plan to get more disabled benefit claimants into work

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Last week, the Shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, asked the DWP how this money would be spent. Claire Coutinho, former DWP minister, now with the Department for Education following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet shake-up, stated the department was committed to helping disabled people and people with health conditions “to start, stay, and succeed in work”. She said: “The £1.3billion will fund the right support in the right place to meet each individual’s needs, with an increased focus on upstream intervention to promote retention and engagement when people fall out of work.

“This comprises Jobcentre Plus delivered employment support and provision, rolling out successful trials through health and social care settings and working with employers and stakeholders to support people to remain in work.”

In her response, Ms Coutinho said the Work Coach support programme will be increasing across England, Scotland, and Wales for people with health conditions receiving Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

She said: “This will enable disabled people to access employment and wider skills support, and our employment programmes earlier.

“We have begun to offer this support in one-third of Jobcentres and will roll out wider from 2023.”

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The former minister added that the DWP and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will “continue to work together” to support work and health outcomes.

She noted that this would include “expanding employment support” within the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services to the whole of England over the spending review period.”

She added: “We will deliver on measures to minimise the risk of ill health-related job loss, as set out in the response to the DWP/DHSC consultation Health is Everyone’s Business.

“We continue to work with small businesses to support them, including delivering a national information and advice service for employers, providing better integrated and tailored guidance on managing health and disability in the workplace.”

In October, the DWP announced it was to launch a new £6.4million scheme which aims to help workforces support their disabled employees.

The department stated that the new online service, called the Support with Employee Health and Disability Service, is to provide information to businesses about supporting and managing employees with disabilities or health conditions at work.

Smaller businesses are the primary target for the initiative, as many of them do not have in-hour human resource support or access to occupational health services.

The scheme will also provide free advice on how to manage staff who need to be in and out of work due to a disability or long-term health condition.

However, the site is currently in test mode, and the DWP has asked businesses and disability groups to have their say through a short online survey to help shape the future of the service.

Once it is fully operational, the website will also explain to employers their legal obligations, including how to make adjustments for people with disabilities.

Earlier this year, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that there are now nearly five million disabled people across the UK in employment.

The ONS said this was an increase of 1.3 million since 2017.

This actually met the Government’s target of getting one million more disabled people into work by 2027 five years ahead of schedule.

The DWP has not yet announced who the new minister for disabled people will be and whoever it is will be the fourth minister in the role in just 14 months.

The Disability News Service website has noted that the new minister could be Corby MP Tom Pursglove who is already as serving minister of state at the DWP and has answered questions within the disability portfolio previously.

The new Work and Pensions Secretary is Mel Stride, who chaired the Treasury select committee from January 2020 until his appointment.

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