Greater Manchester and London handed new “disability powers!”

GMWRAG is wincing reading back the above title but that is what Gov.UK said yesterday when they released a press release. You can find the document at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/greater-manchester-and-london-handed-new-disability-powers but in case you were wondering what it’s really about then it’s about getting “thousands more disabled people into work” and we think it’s talking solely about claimants in receipt of ESA.

There are numerous issues around this starting whether the devolution of such monies does anything other than create a postcode lottery. We could easily take an “I’m alright Jack” approach to this but at present we’re still in the middle of a consultation period for the Green Paper on Work, Health and Disability which this now seems to over-ride with no real clues as to how the money is to be spent beyond procuring and delivering “localised versions” of the Work and Health programme. No reference to barriers to work like a fragmented public transport system; affordable child care; the deteriorating service being delivered by Access To Work and so on.

This talks in terms of the new Work and Health Programme when scepticism has been expressed already about how likely that is to succeed with less money; work coaches on the same grades with more responsibilities and less Jobcentres to begin with. This same climate has seen a deterioration in the work done by Access To Work and cuts to funding of those organisations who do exactly the sort of intense and long-term work needed to get a very small number of disabled people back to work. Add in the weirdness of announcing cuts to Disability Employment Advisers and now an announcement of 500 more and it would be easy to conclude that what we have here is a long way from clear.

So, GMWRAG watches with interest… and not a little confusion.

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Mental health training for Jobcentre Plus staff

The DWP have approached the Royal College of Psychiatrists with a view to them providing front line staff with training on dealing with claimants with mental health issues. Daphne Hall, who writes for Rightsnet has an opportunity to go to the initial meeting looking at what that might entail. Obviously she has some idea of what the issues are for claimants with mental health problems but welcomes input from everyone about what they think are the key issues and will do her best to make sure they are all covered.

The meeting is on Wednesday the 1st of June 2016 so comments by end of play on Tuesday would be great – thanks in advance…

You can find the relevant thread on Rightsnet at http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9790