Skip to main content

Benefit Payments

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to ensure that employers are willing to recruit people who have been claiming incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance. (78364)

The Government are determined to ensure that people on incapacity benefits and, when it is introduced, those on the new employment and support allowance, should not be written off as incapable of work and consigned to a life on benefit.

Since 1997, we have set about implementing the most profound extension of disability rights this country has ever seen. In October 2004, we extended the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 to provide protection against discrimination for an additional 600,000 disabled workers. A further seven million jobs and one million employers were brought within the scope of the employment provisions of the Act. We conduct regular media campaigns aimed at helping employers and service providers to recognise their obligations under the DDA, as well as the commercial benefits of providing accessible services.

Our Pathways to Work pilots work with employers to help people on incapacity benefits gain and retain employment. They have already shown significant success in getting people off benefit and into employment. Over the next two years we will be extending Pathways to Work to every part of Britain. As a result of this investment, we will be bringing new hope and opportunity to some of the most disadvantaged members of our community.

We are currently putting together a cohesive and wide-ranging strategic action plan, developed in consultation with employers and employer organisations that are committed to increasing job opportunities for disabled people. We will work closely with them and other key stakeholders to build and deliver the action plan. Proposals include: an employer-led campaign to better engage employers to recruit and retain disabled people at both corporate and local levels; continued work to increase awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act; addressing and challenging negative employer attitudes; and building employer support for the Government's Welfare Reform agenda. Our aim is not just to challenge and change attitudes, but also to make a real difference to the recruitment of disabled people as well as their retention and progression within organisations.

On 4 July 2006 we launched our Welfare Reform Bill which set out our plans for welfare reform.