Skip to main content

Unemployed Disabled People (Welfare Support)

Volume 511: debated on Monday 14 June 2010

8. What his policy is on the provision of support for people who are unable to work as a result of a disability. (1858)

The Government recognise that some people will not be able to work, or prepare for work, because of a disability. Those people will receive unconditional support and be able to have help to find employment on a voluntary basis. Financial support for those who are unable to work will be through cash benefits, such as the disability living allowance and the employment and support allowance, replacing incapacity benefits.

I thank the Minister for her reply. Royal British Legion Industries, based in my constituency, provides an important service to people with disabilities. Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will use the expertise of such organisations to help people with disabilities get back to work?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and also pay tribute to the Royal British Legion and its work, because it plays a vital role in supporting disabled people into work and helping those who are furthest from the workplace to acquire the skills that they need. The specialist knowledge of such organisations is absolutely vital and will be an important part of the Work programme that the employment Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) has already announced, because those organisations have the on-the-ground knowledge of how best to support disabled people.

As a former Minister for disabled people, I wish the Minister well in standing up for the rights of disabled people throughout government. Will she therefore tell me what plans there are for the access to work programme? Will the Government honour the previous Government’s commitment, or will access to work disappear amid the one, single Work programme?

I thank the right hon. Lady for her kind comments and congratulate her on the work that she has done to support disabled people. It is absolutely vital that we recognise that a reform of work programmes in this country is long overdue. The Work programme will meet a great many people’s needs, but not absolutely everybody’s, so specialist programmes such as residential training colleges, Remploy’s work and others will continue in order to meet the needs of particular disabled people.

In looking at the support for those with disability, will the Minister ensure that the work capability test is reviewed in order to see how it applies to cancer patients facing chemotherapy? At the moment, they seem to be assessed as fit for work when they are quite clearly going to be unfit and unable to work.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. That group will be exempt under the scheme, and it is important to note that the work capability assessment will be reviewed annually for the first five years of its operation.

I should like to welcome all Ministers to their positions on the Government Front Bench. Does the Minister agree with me and her colleague the pensions Minister that it is important to ensure that those who cannot work for reasons of disability or age receive all the benefits to which they are entitled, and that the 13,000 home visits a week that the DWP local service currently makes to vulnerable households play a vital role in ensuring that that is the case? Does she agree also that, if the local service is cut in the spending review, the most vulnerable households will be the hardest hit?

Looking after the most vulnerable groups in society is absolutely at the heart of the work that we do in the Department. I reassure the hon. Lady that when we are reviewing services, whether at a local or national level, we keep that very much in mind.