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Government to trial offer of additional Work Coach support for claimants awaiting their work capability assessment

08 June 2022

Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith has given a preview of welfare reforms due to be announced in a summer 2022 Government White Paper.

In July 2021, the Government published a Green Paper, Shaping Future Support, giving options for addressing some “short-to-medium-term issues in health and disability benefits”.

The Green Paper also aimed to “start a discussion about the opportunities for wider change to deliver on the objectives of the health and disability benefit system”.

Speaking at a Disability Confident Jobs Fair on 18 May the Minister for Disabled People said: “Our Health and Disability White Paper later this summer will help Disabled people to live more independently, including with more help to move into work, where work is right for the individual.

The White Paper will set out our plans to ensure the benefits system better meets the needs of disabled people now and in the future, informed by the huge amounts of feedback we received to the Green Paper.”

One of the plans she highlighted was additional Work Support: “We will offer more support to the 2.8 million people with health conditions receiving Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

From 14 June, we will be trialling an offer of additional Work Coach support for claimants currently awaiting their Work Capability Assessment, initially across a third of the country.

Later in the year, we will expand the offer to claimants after their Work Capability Assessment with limited capability for work but who want help to move closer or into the labour market over time.”

She added that: “Our increasing numbers of Disability Employment Advisors will help embed the benefits of this additional support, using their expert knowledge to help Work Coaches understand the challenges faced by disabled people and provide tailored support.”

Other reforms announced by the Minister related to the Access to Work scheme aimed to transform it to offer Disabled people a “more streamlined, digital service that is visible and accessible”

In addition, she said: “We are also piloting Adjustment Passports to help support and empower disabled people to have a more structured conversation with potential employers about their disability, and to speed up the Access to Work process and reduce the need for assessments.”

DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser Ken Butler said: “To win the trust and confidence of Disabled people, work conditionality and any pressure to work must be removed. A medical certificate (“fit note”) should be accepted as evidence that someone is currently not able to work.

However, support with no strings attached could be offered to those who feel it may be helpful. And, if a person does manage to get back into work, there should be no penalty if it doesn’t work out. If support is going to be genuinely helpful, there needs to be complete removal of any kind of threat or punishment.”

The Minister's Disability Confident Jobs Fair Speech is available from gov.uk.

See also our related news story DR UK, Disability Forum England and DBC respond to Health and Disability Green Paper.