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Extension of New Deal for the Disabled

13 November 2000 - Margaret Hodge, Minister for Disabled People and Hugh Bayley, Social Security Minister announced the setting up of a national network of Job Brokers offering people on Incapacity Benefits the cessary support, guidance, and preparation needed to find paid work. The intention is to develop a network through the the voluntary and private sectors, matching employers and potential employees now on Incapacity Benefits.

The New Deal for Disabled People forms part of the Government's programme for comprehensive civil rights. So far this programme has included:

- the Disability Discrimination Act
- creation of the Disability Rights Commission,
- introduction of the Disabled Person's Tax Credit and, in England,
- introduction of Joint Investment Plans for Welfare to Work.

The New Deal for Disabled People is a joint project by the Department of Social Security, the Department for Education and Employment and the Employment Service. Innitially the following measures were introduced:

- 24 Innovative Schemes designed to test new ways of helping disabled people who want paid work;
- Personal Adviser Service pilots in a dozen locations aimed at helping disabled people to overcome particular barriers to work.

From July 2001 (on a national basis) disabled clients will be offered a range of new services:

- A voluntary gateway to engage those going onto incapacity benefits
- A choice for clients in selecting a job broker
- Encouragement for job brokers to adopt innovative approaches
- Focus on outcomes which result in lasting paid employment for long-term sick and disabled people.

According to Margaret Hodge:

"Disabled people are seven times as likely as non-disabled people to be out of work and claiming benefits. People in receipt of Incapacity Benefits are the largest group of economically inactive people in Britain - one million would like to work and 400,000 could work now given the right support.

"We're taking action to help disabled people achieve that aim. Through the extension of the New Deal for Disabled People, a network of Job Brokers will offer people on Incapacity Benefits the guidance and support they need to find paid work. It will also offer help and advice to employers in meeting the needs of disabled employees."

"We've piloted a range of approaches across the country to find out what works best. We've worked with both the private and voluntary sectors to create new opportunities for disabled people, such as:

- The Eastern Valleys pilot in Wales has helped over 750 long-term sick and disabled people back to work. This included a man who had been on Incapacity Benefit for five years after a spinal injury , the pilot helped him to gain a PSV driver licence and get a job with his local bus company.

- Centrica, a private sector gas company, took on around fifty disabled people in their call centre as part of an innovative pilot scheme.

- Pilot schemes in Bristol and Bath have helped disabled people start up their own businesses - these range from toy production to kitchen fitting and art dealership.

"Job Brokers will build on that experience by helping to match employers to potential employees. It's going to have a dramatic impact on the lives of thousands of disabled people."

And Hugh Bayley said:

"The support of employers is critical to the success of this New Deal. We have well-motivated disabled people who want to work and well-motivated employers who want to hire them; now we want job brokers to bring them together. The Prospectus we have launched today is inviting private, voluntary and public sector organisations to consider bidding to become job brokers and help us match the abilities and potential of disabled people to employers.

"Job Brokers will work closely with employers to help disabled people prepare to move into, or back into work. Job Brokers will need to understand the local labour market and be aware of the needs of disabled people. They will match jobs available with the skills needed to fill them, and help develop skills for those who do not already have them. Job Brokers will work with people with a disability or long term illness entitled to incapacity benefits."

In Wales, Jane Davidson, Welsh Assembly Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, said at a meeting of the New Deal Taskforce at Coleg Powys in Newtown, Ms Davidson said "This is a particularly important programme for us in Wales, given the significant levels of joblessness due to sickness or disability."

"The New Deal for Disabled People Personal Adviser pilot currently operating in the Eastern Valleys and Southern Powys has been the most successful of the 12 Personal Adviser pilots throughout the whole of the UK, with the latest management information showing that almost 750 disabled people (58% of participants) achieved job outcomes by the end of September 2000. This is a great compliment to the tremendous work of the personal advisers, employers, training providers and voluntary organisations involved in the pilot - but most of all, it is a tribute to the dedication and commitment of the people participating on the programme, people with disabilities who were determined to overcome their barriers to work to enable themselves to lead a more independent life."


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