Work and Pensions Committee report highlights essential reforms and supports Sense recommendations

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Earlier this week the Work and Pensions Select Committee published their report on the Government’s Plan for Jobs and DWP’s employment support provision. This nearly 100-page report covers a wide range of issues including how the Government can support disabled people into employment.

As organisation that provides employment support for disabled people, this is an area that we campaign tirelessly on. You can read about our report on the changes we’re trying to achieve here.  We made these recommendations to the Select Committee and we were thrilled to see they mentioned them in their report.

Training for Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisors

As part of our recent employment research, we found that Work Coaches didn’t receive specific training on the barriers to employment faced by disabled people. Even the training for Disability Employment Advisors – who should be experts – misses out on key areas such as the assistive technology some disabled people need to look for work.

Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisors can play an important role in helping some disabled people into work. But, too often, they aren’t given all the skills they need to do this.

In our report, we called for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to review the training it provides to Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisors. So it’s great news that the Work and Pensions Committee’s report calls for the DWP to review how it enables jobcentre staff to support disabled people. If acted upon, this could lead to more disabled jobseekers getting the support they need to enter work.

Disability Confident

The Work and Pensions Committee has also recommended a reform of the Disability Confident scheme. Disability Confident encourages employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.

The Committee raised concerns that the scheme focuses too much on processes rather than outcomes, meaning that it often fails to have an impact on the lives of disabled employees.  

That’s why the Committee are calling for the DWP to strengthen the requirement for employers to recruit disabled people before being awarded a higher level of accreditation in the Disability Confident Scheme.

We welcome this. If the DWP puts this recommendation into practice, then Disability Confident might at last be more than a tick box exercise.

Access to Work

The report also highlighted some areas of improvement for another Government scheme – Access to Work. This government initiative is designed to support disabled individuals by providing financial assistance for necessary workplace accommodations. This helps to address a significant barrier to work.

But the Committee pointed out that awareness of the scheme is too low. We know from our experience that this is true.

In our recent employment research, we found that half of jobseekers with complex disabilities weren’t aware of Access to Work.

To address this, the Committee has called for a targeted marketing campaign to raise awareness about Access to Work. They’re hoping that increased awareness will lead to more take up and result in fewer disabled people facing unnecessary barriers to employment. We think this is the right approach, and we hope the DWP acts on this recommendation.

What next?

The publication of ‘The Plan for Jobs and Employment Support’ report by the Work and Pensions Committee has some great recommendations which, if introduced, would have a big impact on disabled people.

We hope that the government listens to these recommendations and introduces them, we’ll make sure that we keep working with them until they do.