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Access to Work

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the budget for the Access to Work scheme in order to meet the Government’s aspiration of getting a further million older people and a million people with disabilities into work. (146848)

The Access to Work budget has more than quadrupled since 1997, from £15 million to £64 million and now helps nearly three times as many people as it did ten years ago. However, Access to Work is only one of a range of measures which we have to help disabled people return to work, and most people currently claiming an incapacity benefit do not require help from this programme.

The aspiration to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefits by 1 million over the course of a decade remains our overall long-term aim. We will do this by addressing the needs of each individual. We will help those already in work to stay in work if they become ill or disabled. We will also provide support to those already without work to help them find the right work for them and we will create the right environment for them to move into and keep a job. The support available includes our successful Pathways to Work programme, new deal for disabled people and a wide range of programmes provided by Jobcentre Plus, which includes Access to Work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the level of unmet demand has been in relation to applications for support under the Access to Work scheme during the last five years. (146849)

Access to Work is a demand-led programme and the budget has increased year-on-year to cope with the extra numbers of customers and has more than quadrupled since 1997, helping three times as many people. During the last five years, all customers who have been eligible for help under the current programme rules have been offered help through Access to Work. Therefore, there has not been any unmet demand.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has undertaken of the (a) value for money and (b) effectiveness of publicity undertaken to promote the Access to Work scheme to employers. (146850)

The promotion of Access to Work comes under the wider Jobcentre Plus marketing budget. Around £125,000 was spent in 2005-06 on targeted marketing of Jobcentre Plus services for disabled people in disability magazines. The Department does not record specific marketing expenditure on Access to Work separately.

Because Access to Work has not been marketed in isolation from the other disability programmes, it is not possible to evaluate how effective the overall marketing exercise has been for that specific programme.