The Department of Work and Pensions has released new plans to help more people with long-term disabilities to find and maintain work.
These Plans are set out in the government’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper. It describes how disability or a health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life – or work.
This comes after the gap between employment rates of disabled people and non-disabled people sits at 32%, with 4.6 million disabled people out of work.
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, commented on the new plans:
“…This Green Paper launches a wide–ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome.”
“With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity – to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health and benefit the NHS all at the same time.”
“I hope that health professionals will contribute their expertise so that we can ensure the best possible outcomes…”
The proposed plans include:
- a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP fit notes to support workers back into their jobs faster, and for longer
- encouraging Jobcentre Plus work coaches to signpost claimants to therapy
- the launch of a consultation on Work Capability Assessment reform
- encouraging employers to work with their employees with long-term health conditions to stop them from falling out of work
- a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome
The Green Paper announced by the government today includes:
- the creation of a Disability Confident Business Leaders Group to work alongside Ministers and officials to increase employer engagement around disabled employment, starting with FTSE 250 companies
- a consultation on the Work Capability Assessment, the process for assessing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit claimants’ capability for work – the proposals would put an end to the binary ‘can work/can’t work’ groups
- developing large scale trials on how health-led services and support can help get disabled people and those with long-term conditions back into work – with a specific focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions
- working with Health Education England, Public Health England and others to make the benefits of work an ingrained part of the training and health workforce approach
- a new Health and Work Conversation between new people on ESA and their work coach, focusing on what they can do rather than what they cannot
- recruiting around 200 Community Partners into Jobcentre Plus, including expertise from the voluntary sector
- a trial voluntary work experience programme for young people with limited capability for work, enabling them to benefit from experience with a mainstream employer to build confidence and skills, enhance their CV and demonstrate their ability to perform a role
- extending ‘Journey to Employment’ job clubs to 71 Jobcentre Plus areas with the highest number of people receiving ESA with limited capability for work
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said:
“ Disabled people are twice as likely as the general public to be unemployed. It is right that the government has recognised this is an injustice that needs to be tackled.”
“We welcome the publication of ‘Improving Lives’, which recognises the need for real change and sets out some bold ideas for reform.”
“Scope wants to see this Green Paper lead to an overhaul of the fitness for work test, better access to specialist and personalised employment support, more action by employers and more flexibility and support at work for working disabled people…”
The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper was released at 3.30pm, Monday 31 October 2016.