Sense responds to Government’s Work, Health and Disability green paper: Improving Lives

21 February 2017

Sense has responded to the Government’s Improving Lives green paper consultation, which focuses on how to increase support for disabled people entering employment, work-related benefit assessments, and how to support employers to employ more disabled people.

Sense recently released the Realising Aspirations for All report, which revealed that young people who are deafblind are some of the most marginalised in the country, with only 4% in employment, and highlighted a number of barriers and recommendations in response to the green paper, including:

-    The Government should avoid placing any mandatory recommendations on people in the Support group of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and reverse the planned ESA Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) cut.

-    The Government must address the lack of employment support, which is often not specialist enough to meet the needs of those with sensory impairments or complex needs, by reviewing overall resources and mapping out gaps in support.

-    Work coaches should undergo mandatory training on broad specialisms, such as sensory impairment, and Disability Employment Advisers should complete condition-specific training led by or involving disabled people.

-    The Government should urgently look to reform the Work Capability Assessment so that it more accurately assesses the barriers faced by disabled people to enter employment.

-    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should conduct research into how best to support employers to make reasonable adjustments, potentially setting up a support helpline as part of the employer ‘one-stop-shop’ initiative.

-    The Government should develop and implement a coordinated campaign to raise employers’ awareness of the abilities and potential of disabled people, including those with complex needs.

Kate Fitch, Head of Public Policy at Sense, said:

“We welcome the Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap, and the publication of the green paper is a positive step in its plans to increase the number of disabled people able to fulfil their potential.

However, there are a huge number of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from securing employment that must urgently be addressed, including access to specialist employment support and the battle against negative employer attitudes.

We’ve spent the last two months consulting with people who have sensory impairments and complex needs, to ensure the views, ambitions, and experiences, of those we support are reflected in this green paper, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Government as it takes its next steps on improving disability employment.”