The information is as follows:
Disability Equality Scheme
One of the main ways DWP is already working towards ensuring compliance with existing and new Disability Discrimination legislation is through publication of its Disability Equality Schemes by 4 December 2006. Businesses and corporate centre directorates will be involving disabled people in developing action plans for tackling problem areas and identifying positive actions to address these. The process to develop our Schemes was formally launched on 12 April 2006 by the Permanent Secretary. We have begun the process of involving both staff and customers in developing our Schemes and are planning a training strategy to ensure our staff are aware of the new legislation.
Equality Impact Assessment
We advise that all parts of DWP undertake to consider the potential impact of policy and services on all equality groups and we are implementing a new impact assessment tool across all diversity areas. We have already undertaken at least three impact assessments taking into account disability, with a number of additional assessments in the process of being completed.
DWP commissioned public access audits of all its premises used by the public during 2003. The results were used to develop a programme of public access improvements that was implemented in the following year and completed in March 2005, with the exception of a small number of Jobcentre Plus refurbishment programme sites, scheduled for completion in June 2006.
A total of 1,735 buildings were surveyed with access impotents works being undertaken at 1,032 sites at a cost of £4 million. The existing public access provisions are subject to annual review and any future additional requirement is built into the annual maintenance work programmes.
The Department has worked in partnership with the Employers’ Forum on Disability (EFD) in order to address the needs of its disabled customers. In particular, it has contributed, along with other public and private organisations, to the highly acclaimed interactive “Disability Confident” training resource pack.
Reasonable Adjustment pilots
DWP has been running two pilot exercises in the Disability and Carers’ Service (DCS) on a revised process for delivering reasonable adjustments. The development of the new process was partly in response to the length of time it took to assess and put reasonable adjustments into place and partly to ensure that the recommended adjustment was the most suitable for that individual. The new process opens formal communication channels between suppliers and so far, the results have been positive. There has been a notable reduction in the time it is taking to achieve a successful outcome.
A third pilot is due to start in Jobcentre Plus shortly. We are already planning national implantation.
We want our staff to understand and embrace diversity. An important part of achieving this has been our Diversity Toolkit.
The Toolkit makes all our diversity and equality information in one place. It sits on our internal website, where staff can work through its training modules at their own pace.
The Toolkit has been commended by the Institute of Welfare and is now being used, not only by them but also by around 70 other organisations, including the Metropolitan Police.