asked the Secretary of State for Employment what provisions and facilities are available for training handicapped persons in various trades and professions.
I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that disabled people may be trained for occupations within their educational and medical capacity. These facilities are available under the Training Opportunities Scheme (TOPS) or other more flexible arrangements available only to disabled people. Some 600 different courses are available at skillcentres, colleges of further education, commercial colleges, with employers and at residential training colleges for disabled people and with organisations such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind.Training allowances either on a local or lodging basis plus travel expenses and mid-day meal allowance are provided as well as free credits of national insurance contributions. These allowances are tax-free and not affected by a spouse's earnings.Disabled people taking courses for professional qualifications unable to obtain normal student grants may receive under the Professional Training Scheme for disabled people grants calculated by analogy with those awarded under Department of Education arrangements for first degree courses.