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Employment Schemes: Public Sector

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will assess the merits of making access to work funding available to individuals working or aiming to work in the public sector; and if she will make a statement. (285802)

[holding answer 13 July 2009]: It is important that individuals aiming to, or who are already working within the public sector have access to funding, such as Access to Work, in relation to their support needs. Individuals working, or about to work in the public sector have been eligible for Access to Work support since the inception of the programme in 1994.

We believe, however, it is right for public sector employers to set an example to other employers by recognising the value to them of taking responsibility for managing workplace disability adjustments. The Strategy Unit Report “Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People” published in January 2005, stated that there are strong grounds for asking employers in the wider public sector to fund workplace disability adjustments.

As a result of this, from 1 October 2006, ministerial Government Departments have funded the workplace disability adjustments required by their disabled staff out of their running costs, instead of using the Access to Work programme. Ministerial Government Departments are required to provide the same level of support for their employees that would be expected under the Access to Work programme.

Jobcentre Plus continues to provide and fund assessments, and continues to provide information and advice to disabled staff and their managers. There are no plans to remove Access to Work funding from people working in other parts of the public sector, and individuals working in these public sector organisations can still apply for Access to Work funding.