To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what programmes are presently in existence to promote the employment of disabled persons; and what initiatives are being considered to encourage employers to hire the handicapped.
The Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission promote the employment of people with disabilities through a range of programmes which are designed to assess abilities; determine needs; assist rehabilitation and development of skills; place in employment; and, for people with severe disabilities, provide employment opportunities. These programmes include the Department resettlement service, the quota scheme, disablement advisory service, the code of good practice on employment of disabled people, and sheltered employment programme; and the commission's rehabilitation service, and support for residential training centres. All general programmes administered by the Department and the commission are also open to people with disabilities. Information about the operation of all these programmes was published in the Manpower Services Commission's report for 1986–87. Measures to encourage employers to recruit and retain people with disabilities are the particular responsibility of the Department's disablement advisory service. The effectiveness of measures taken to encourage employers to develop an equal opportunity policy towards people with disabilities will be included in the review of policies and programmes which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced that we would be undertaking during the debate on the Local Government Bill, on Wednesday 19 March at column 346.