To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to improve the present programme of sheltered employment.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, is publishing today a consultative paper on the arrangements for funding sheltered employment. The main proposals involve:introducing a more flexible system of block grants to providers which will allow a better response to client needs;improving performance and use of resource through having formal contracts with clear targets;better targeting of sheltered employment on need;arrangements to encourage more people with severe disabilities to move from sheltered workshops or factories to placements with employers and, where possible to full open employment.The document has been sent to the main interests concerned and comments requested by 13 September. Decisions will be reached as soon as possible after that.I believe that the proposals will address criticisms of the excessive complexity and inflexibility of current funding arrangements and will enable more people to be helped in better ways.
Copies of the document are available in the Vote Office.