- Nearly eight million adults of working age are disabled or have a work-limiting health condition. Those affected by a health problem or disability are far more likely to be in low pay, live in deprived areas, and to be out of work. Overall, half of all disabled people are out of work, compared with one quarter of those who are not disabled.
- Of the 3.6 million people who are out of work and have a work-limiting health condition, just one in ten are receiving support through DWP employment programmes – Work Choice and Work Programme. Furthermore only 7 per cent of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants on the Work Programme achieve sustained employment.
- Despite more than a decade of near-constant reforms to disability benefits and employment support, progress on closing the health and disability employment deficit has stalled in recent years. This is why there needs to be renewed efforts to improve qualifications and jobs for disabled people – especially those on ESA.
100 Day Action
- Start work to re-structure future employment and skills support around three levels:
- ‘Into work’ support – for those closest to returning to work;
- Health and disability employment support – for those needing more intensive and joined up support; and
- Supported Employment and rehabilitation – for those with the most significant support needs.
- Local and national commissioners should work together to ensure that the three levels of support are in place – within a clear national framework but with approaches to devolution, joint commissioning, pooling or alignment that are appropriate to local areas.
- Commission a distinct employment programme for disabled people, merging ESA support currently within the Work Programme and Work Choice. This should be jointly commissioned with local areas where they can show plans and investment in boosting support.
- An urgent review of the Work Capability Assessment and Access to Work schemes. Both are hugely important, but neither are working to their potential.
- Local partners, Jobcentre Plus and local Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) should work together to develop protocols on joint working, including information sharing covering employment and skills.
- A ‘What Works Unit’ should be established with a remit to collect, review and disseminate best practices; facilitate knowledge exchange between providers; and encourage innovation in service design and delivery. This should help to identify the different forms of employment support that respond to the distinctive circumstances of different groups of ESA claimants.
Continuing our series blogs, Chief Executive of the Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion, Dave Simmonds, discusses proposals to re-structure support for disabled people.