Skip to main content

Employment: Learning Disability

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to help those with acute learning disabilities find sustainable employment. (221675)

People with moderate and severe learning disabilities encounter particular difficulties in finding paid work. They are therefore now one of four groups of disadvantaged people selected for special attention in the Government’s Socially Excluded Adults Public Service Agreement (PSA16).

As a direct consequence of PSA 16, we will support and engage with the Project Search initiatives in Leicester and Norwich and learn from their experiences in testing this approach. Project Search is an initiative through which a college tutor and support worker (job coach) are based within a host employer with the objective of placing people with moderate and severe learning disabilities into sustainable work.

We also have a range of specialist disability employment programmes aimed at helping greater numbers of disabled people, including those with learning disabilities, take up and retain paid work. 37 per cent of people helped by the WORKSTEP programme of supported employment have a learning disability.

Our Welfare Reform Green Paper, “No-one written off—reforming the welfare state to reward responsibility”, Cm 7363 launched on 21 July, made clear that following strong support for the proposals to improve the specialist programmes, set out at the end of last year, we would now press ahead with these reforms. A more flexible approach will enable us to help greater numbers of people with learning disabilities. The Green Paper also made clear our intention to substantially expand the funding for the specialist programmes.

The ‘Getting a Life’ project is specifically aimed at getting the employment, education and local authority day services functions for people with learning disabilities to work together in an integrated manner. This enables a seamless progression from school, through college or training into employment or, where appropriate, other activities. The project is being tested in seven demonstration sites.