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Equality (Disabled People)

Volume 516: debated on Monday 18 October 2010

The Government are committed to equality for disabled people and to implementing the UN convention on the rights of disabled people. There is a full programme of work in my Department—and right across government—to deliver on that commitment. We have commenced the majority of the Equality Act 2010 this month, we are improving support for disabled people to enter and stay in employment through the Work programme, Access to Work and Work Choice, and we are piloting the right to control from the end of this year.

I thank the Under-Secretary for that reply. I recently visited the Newlife Foundation, a national charity based in my constituency, and was told about the huge problems faced by families with children with disabilities and terminal conditions. I was concerned to hear that children under three are not entitled to DLA mobility allowance, and about the impact of that on their families. Will the Under-Secretary confirm whether that is the policy and, if so, whether the Department has any plans to reconsider it for the most vulnerable groups?

I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the Newlife Foundation, particularly the work of Sheila Brown in setting up that important local charity. My hon. Friend is right to identify the complexities of the benefit system, particularly the way it can affect children and families. He will know that, in the emergency Budget, the Chancellor announced a review, and I would like to offer to meet the Newlife Foundation and Sheila Brown with my hon. Friend to discuss that matter further.

Will the Under-Secretary confirm that an equality impact assessment will be published following the comprehensive spending review? Are the Government prepared to publish all the analysis that was undertaken of the implications of the spending review, particularly its impact on disabled people? In the light of that, are the Government willing to make a statement to the House on the full implications for disabled people?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her position—I believe that this is her first time at the Dispatch Box. I would like to reassure her that we already have the processes in place to undertake an equality impact assessment of all the measures that affect disabled people. We have said that we will make it publicly available.

I have been contacted by Employ-Ability, a charity in my constituency that helps people with mental health difficulties and disabilities to get back into work. Those people are concerned that, if they are no longer eligible for incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance because they recover, they will lose the working tax credit at 16 hours and also their return-to-work bonus at £40 a week for a year. Will the Under-Secretary ensure that it is financially worth while for those people to get back into work?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, in which he outlines some of the complexities that disabled people face when they try to get back into the workplace. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said earlier, we want to ensure that work pays for everybody who wants and is able to get back into the workplace. That principle underpins all the work that we are undertaking.