Following the publication of Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability, the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) welcomes the government’s focus on helping more people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and muscular skeletal conditions move into and stay in work. However, it is concerning that the vast majority of jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions will remain in the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) system without the specialist support they need.
The Work and Health Programme, mentioned in today’s paper, is designed as a tailored, localised support service for jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions. The programme is very small, however, and only one in eight disabled people who want to work will have specialist help to do so.
An independent report by the Westminster Policy Institute (WPI) for ERSA showed the government is planning to spend a massive 80% less on specialist employment support programmes, meaning that 45,000 fewer disabled people will access specialist support in every remaining year of this Parliament. According to the report, doubling the programme’s resources would give an extra 160,000 disabled people access to appropriate support and bring Exchequer savings of £280 million.
Commenting, Kirsty Mchugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, said:
“Jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions need tailored, localised support to move towards and into work. The size of the new Work and Health Programme means only one in eight disabled people who want to work will have specialist help to do so. The Government must reverse its 80% reduction in funding and provide more of the specialist employment services which help people with disabilities and health conditions to move into work.
‘It is right that the government trials new initiatives and gathers evidence of what works. The government must continue its work with ERSA and New Philanthropy Capital to bring its Employment Datalab to light, to provide evidence from the thousands of frontline initiatives already supporting people into work every day. We must ensure that the government’s trials do not try to reinvent the wheels already turning in communities across the UK.
With the right funding, good quality frontline provision can provide help to more disabled jobseekers. I look forward to working with the government to ensure the best of these services can be available to more jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions.”