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.

Work and Pensions Committee launches inquiry into halving the disability employment gap.

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into halving the disability employment gap – the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people.

The inquiry invites submissions addressing the following:

  • steps required to halve the disability employment gap – are the current measures likely to achieve the government’s target and are interim targets required;
  • support for employers – how effective is the Disability Confident campaign and what more could be done;
  • effective employment support for disabled people – what should support in the proposed Work and Health programme look like and how should providers be incentivised; and
  • likely effects of proposed ESA reform – what are the likely impacts of the abolition of the work-related activity component, what evidence is there that it will promote positive behavioural change and what could be the unintended consequences.

More details can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/disability-employment-gap-launch-15-16 and the page for making submissions can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/disability-employment-gap-15-16.

A number of organisations have already made observations on this very issue. For example,

Disability Rights UK.

Pluss

The Centre For Social Justice

Even the newly discovered compassion of IDS has weighed in recently.

The final date for submissions is Monday the 9th of May 2016.