Sunday, 23 October 2016

Deaf/Disabled jobseekers facing dramatic fall-off in support

A reduction in specialist services means disabled people will need to turn to Jobcentre Plus
Number of disabled people receiving specialist help to fall by 50% after 80% funding cut to new work programme.  The number of unemployed disabled people given specialist help to find work will be halved under plans to be revealed this week, according to firms running the government’s work programme.

About 300,000 disabled people were offered help between 2012 and 2015 but this will fall to 160,000 between 2017 and 2020, it is claimed. This is a consequence of the government reducing funding for the new work programme by 80%, according to a major report to be published by the umbrella group for the companies on the programme. Anyone else seeking support will need to rely on the Jobcentre Plus system that the companies claim is already under significant pressure to deliver cost savings.

Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of the Employment Related Services Association (Ersa), which represents the employment support sector, said: “The size of the new Work and Health Programme means only one in eight disabled people who want to work will have specialist help to do so. As a society, we have an obligation to ensure appropriate support is available and today’s report shows that we are in danger of failing disabled people and their families.”

Earlier this year it was announced that the Work and Health Programme would replace the previous scheme and a green paper detailing the government’s proposals is to be published later this week. The new measures have been billed as a specialist programme of employment support focused predominantly on those with health problems and disabilities.

Earlier this year ministers were accused of “leaving the disabled behind” in its drive for greater employment, after it emerged that more than half of the households in which no one works contain at least one adult with a disability.  However, the new analysis shows that there is to be a cut in funding from £750m in 2013-14 to less than £130m next year.

Ersa says that the cut in funding will severely hamper the government in its goal of securing work for more than 1.2 million more people with disabilities.

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