Work and Pensions Committee

Session 2002-03                11 April 2003

- Employment For All -

The Work and Pensions Committee today published ‘Employment For All’: an interim report into the effectiveness of Government policy in increasing the employment rate of people with disabilities. The Chairman of the Committee, Sir Archy Kirkwood MP said: “The Pathways to Work Green Paper is a welcome development in the Government’s employment strategy which will help to tackle some of the employment barriers faced by disabled people. We would like to see some elements of the planned pilots rolled-out across Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible so that all disabled people can benefit from the new initiatives.”

The Employment For All inquiry was launched shortly after the publication of the Pathways to Work Green Paper in November 2002. To enable the inquiry to feed into the consultation, the Committee has agreed to produce an interim report and may decide to return to the subject at a later stage.

The Report raises concerns that disabled people are disadvantaged by the binary split between ‘incapacity’ and ‘able to work’; and that the divide between benefits and work is too large and inflexible to enable many disabled people to move into  work. The Report concludes that while this problem exists work incentives, will only have a limited effect.

The Committee has strong concerns that the funding for New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) is not in proportion to the number of people targetted and does not reflect the level of support required by participants. We are also concerned that Jobcentre Plus will not be able to cope with the extension of the work-focussed interview regime without extra resources.

The Report concludes that the pilots outlined in the Green Paper and the plethora of other employment initiatives will help to increase the employment rate for disabled people. However, more time is needed to allow current initiatives to have an effect. Also, more funding and staff resources are needed to deliver the range of employment services to disabled people.

Volume 2 of Employment For All will be published in due course.