Today the Government are reaffirming their clear commitment to disabled people by launching a new programme to provide support for severely disabled people. The new programme, currently called Work Choice, will be introduced from 25 October 2010. It will sit alongside the Work Programme and will help into work disabled people who face the most complex and long-term barriers to employment and who may require high intensity support in the workplace.
Nearly half of all disabled people work and many more want to work but have not had the right support. Work Choice will provide that support for more severely disabled people who want to move into employment. It will replace the existing confusing array of DWP specialist disability employment provision (WORKSTEP, Work Preparation and the Job Introduction Scheme) across England, Scotland and Wales.
Work Choice will greatly improve upon the effectiveness of current provision by tailoring support to the needs of each severely disabled individual to help move them into and stay in long-term sustainable jobs.
Reform in this sector is long overdue. In the past, provision has been patchy with a fragmented network of providers. Work Choice will simplify the current overlapping set of programmes and will reduce the number of provider contracts from more than 200 to just 28.
Work Choice has been developed in close consultation with providers, disability groups and disabled people and has widespread support.
Work has been ongoing since the coalition Government took office to ensure continuity of support. We are making this announcement now to ensure that all providers are able to prepare fully to deliver the programme from October.
We will now proceed to contract with the successful bidders for the Work Choice programme.