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Disabled people deserve better support for work schemes

04 March 2013

Liz Sayce, our chief executive, has criticised the failure of the government’s programmes, Work Programme and Work Choice, to help disabled people into work. The Work Programme helped just over 1,000 out of 79,000 disability benefit claimants into work for at least three months over the first year. The figures also show that, of the 55,000 people using Work Choice in the last 9 quarters only 1,370 people on an out of work disability benefit -Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Incapacity Benefit (IB) - actually secured work.

Liz Sayce, author of an independent report on disability employment support, said: “The employment outcomes for disabled people from the Work Programme are terrible. However, Work Choice outcomes are also poor. Disabled people deserve better than both these programmes.  Given that Work Choice was set up to serve people facing the greatest barriers it is surprising that this whole programme has only helped a meagre 17% of IB/ESA claimants into employment in over 2 years, and even that figure includes places in separate factories, i.e. it is not all open employment.

Compare these figures with the research results for genuinely individualised support, for instance with people with serious mental health problems (who face the very greatest barriers to employment and highest rates of worklessness). These programmes consistently support 50-60% of people into open employment (with flexible support to help people sustain work).

As Government prepares its disability employment strategy it should create genuinely personalised, individual support that enables people to get decent employment, that interests them, with continuity of support (for instance, if someone has a fluctuating impairment, support that can be tapped into again when needed). We need far more choice and control, through evidence based and personalised support. The Work Programme and Work Choice are not currently delivering what we need and deserve.”