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The Department for Work and Pensions recently published its a report, Fulfilling Potential, which looks at future disability policy objectives. The report draws upon submissions to the the fulfilling potential consultation launched last year. A brief overview of recommendations impacting upon disability employment are included below:

  • Prepare a new employment strategy for disabled people and for people with a health condition to consider how to help them secure and progress in work. The strategy is expected to be published later in 2013, and will be fed into by BIS, DWP and DH. It will also reference work being undertaken by consultative groups, which ERSA sit on.
  • Develop a specific evidence base around disability employment, to inform the new employment strategy for disabled people and for those with a health condition. DWP is currently considering options to progress this objective.
  • Investigate ways to improve the employment outcomes of people with mental health conditions. DWP will use an upcoming Disability Employment Conference next week, 18 July 2013, which ERSA is attending, to focus on partnership working with business and the launch of a two-year communications campaign.
  • Expand funding for Access to Work (AtW). In March 2012, DWP announced an extra £15 million for AtW over the spending review period. Government continues to work towards raising employer awareness of AtW, and to strengthen the role AtW plays in supporting independent travel. They are also currently considering how AtW can be more closely involved in supporting disabled young peoples’ transition into supported paid employment, through Supported Internship trials.
  • Specialist employment provision for unemployed disabled people with more complex barriers. DWP is currently looking into how to best provide employment support for those disabled people with complex barriers, as part of the employment strategy. The Work Choice evaluation will feed into this consideration.
  • Extend NEA to people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). From February 2013, DWP removed restrictions to allow ESA claimants wishing to enter self-employment to become eligible to claim NEA.
  • Introduce a health and work assessment and advisory service, to ensure employees who are absent from work for four weeks receive appropriate occupational health expertise to support them in returning to work. The government will introduce a state-funded occupational health assessment and advisory service in 2014, to help employees absent due to sickness return to employment.
  • Consider how to fund and utilise the specialised services offered by Residential Training Colleges. Following the Liz Sayce recommendations, DWP is considering next steps as part of its wider strategy for disability employment.
  • Develop an online employer digital portal. DWP are designing and developing an online digital portal that will support employers to recruit and retain disabled people.

ERSA is in dialogue with DWP about the future disability employment strategy. Members should contact gemma.hopkins@ersa.org.uk / 020 7690 6317.