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Disabled Jobseekers

Volume 521: debated on Monday 10 January 2011

20. What recent representations he has received on his plans to help disabled jobseekers into work. (32662)

I thank the Minister for her earlier response. I have been concerned that the number of people with mental health disabilities referred straight on to jobseeker’s allowance has been greater than the number of people with physical disabilities. Can the Minister give an assurance that those undertaking workplace capability assessments will have access to high quality mental health expertise, and will she or the Minister responsible meet representatives of mental health charities from my constituency?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question. That issue was looked at in detail as part of the Harrington review. The Government accepted all the recommendations put forward by Harrington and I assure her that mental health champions—one of the proposals put forward—will be in place by March. I believe that the Minister for Employment, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), will be meeting my hon. Friend to discuss those matters further.

Although I support the recent changes to access to work, which have offered a reassurance to prospective employers that they will be able to use ATW, I am concerned that the money available is to be reduced. Will the Minister reassure me that the access to work fund will always be adequate as the Government’s policies rightly help more disabled people back into work?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I can reassure him about the Government’s commitment to access to work. I can go one stage further and say that more people will receive support from access to work this year than received it in the final year of the previous Government, and that that support will continue. We will be considering how we can make access to work provide really good value for disabled people and for the taxpayer.