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Employment Services: Autism

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking to ensure that Jobcentre Plus makes adequate provision to meet the requirements of people with autism who use its services. (304203)

Jobcentre Plus advisers support autistic people who are seeking employment and help with their applications for benefit. Where the customer has more complex support needs they can be referred to a Disability Employment Adviser. The Disability Employment Adviser will work with the customer to agree an action plan to help get them into work. They can advise on suitable employment opportunities and approach employers on the customer’s behalf. If more in depth support is needed they can arrange for an occupational health assessment and help to be provided by a work psychologist.

Jobcentre Plus also has a number of specialist programmes that help disabled people, including people with autism, move into paid work, some of which are only accessible via the Disability Employment Adviser. These include Work Preparation, Residential Training and WORKSTEP (a programme of supported employment).

People with autism going into paid work may be able to get support from Access to Work. The Access to Work team can provide practical advice and support to disabled people and their employers to help them overcome work related obstacles resulting from disability. It does this through a system of grants towards the cost of providing support, such as a job coach to settle an autistic customer into work. The customer can also be supported at work by Access to Work paying for awareness training on autism to be delivered to the customer’s work colleagues.

The Disability Employment Adviser will be able to put the customer in touch with the relevant Access to Work site which takes applications or Access to Work information and contact details can be found on the Jobcentre Plus and Directgov websites.

Jobcentre Plus has had contact with the National Autistic Society and has provided a range of information including contact centre scripts and details about the training advisers receive.