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Disabled People

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to make public funds available to assist disabled people taking up public appointments (a) through the Access to Work Scheme and (b) through other mechanisms. [110742]

Our first priority is to help those without jobs into paid work. Jobcentre Plus has a wide range of support that would be available to disabled people who wish to take up paid employment, whether full or part time, including some public appointments. Access to Work, for example, helps disabled people who require extra support to overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability. For public appointments which are not paid employment, help from Jobcentre Plus would not be appropriate.We recognise the benefits that diversity brings to public appointments, and the Commissioner for Public Appointments provides guidance which states that care must be taken when making appointments not to discriminate on the grounds of disability and to ensure that positive action is taken wherever possible to attract suitable candidates. In addition, the Disability Rights Commission, which is sponsored by this Department, will continue to work closely with the relevant unit in the Cabinet Office, and disabled people, with the aim of increasing the proportion of public appointments held by disabled people.