The new work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, has announced details of a new voluntary programme for disabled people who are long-term unemployed.
The programme aims to provide “highly personalised packages of employment support for people who are at least a year away from moving into work”, with the target of supporting 10,000 disabled people over four years.
Those on the scheme will receive coaching to “build their independence, confidence and motivation, as well as work experience to help boost their career prospects”.
The scheme will be rolled out across England and Wales in 2019, providing support for up to 21 months, including six months of in-work support for those who secure a job.
“Everyone, no matter what their background is, should have the opportunity to thrive in the workplace, and having the right support in place for disabled people is one of my greatest priorities.
“To truly help people transform their lives, there can be no one-size-fits-all approach.
“That’s why this new programme is designed to offer people, who may think they will never move into work, tailored support to help them overcome any personal barriers they may have in the first instance, and then to focus on boosting their skills.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the £40 million funding for the scheme – to be spread over four years – had not come from the cuts of nearly £30-a-week in payments to new claimants of employment and support allowance who are placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG), a measure that was introduced last year.
The government has predicted that it will save an estimated £450 million a year from the WRAG cuts by 2020-21 and has said it will invest a total of £330 million of those savings over four years from April 2017 in employment support for those affected.
But a DWP spokeswoman said:
“The funding in the business case is from the DWP baseline and not part of the £330 million relating to employment support and WRAG removal.”
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com