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Employment Support Services

Volume 526: debated on Monday 28 March 2011

3. When he plans to respond to the review of employment support services for disabled people conducted by Liz Sayce. (49040)

10. When he plans to respond to the review of employment support services for disabled people conducted by Liz Sayce. [Official Report, 1 April 2011, Vol. 526, c. 10MC.] (49047)

Liz Sayce is due to submit her independent review of specialist disability employment services by the summer of 2012. We look forward to her recommendations and will respond in due course.

I very much welcome this review, but will my hon. Friend assure me that it will also specifically consider the potential power of new media and new technologies to unlock additional training and employment opportunities for disabled people?

As I travel around and speak to disabled people in various types of employment, I hear from them directly how important new media are in helping people in that sector both to obtain jobs and to remain in employment. I am sure that new media opportunities will remain at the heart of the Government’s drive to get more people into work.

How is the Work Choice programme helping people with disabilities, especially those who need more specialist support?

As my hon. Friend will know, Work Choice was launched in October last year, and concentrates on both pre-employment and on-the-job support. We will support about 13,000 people a year through Work Choice—people who experience the most difficulties in obtaining employment—and I am sure that it will prove to be an important part of the Government’s programme.

Over the coming months, more than 11,000 people in Stockport will be required to attend a local centre run by Atos Healthcare for reassessment of their incapacity benefit. Disability Stockport is worried about the fact that the centre in Deanery Way does not provide easy access for disabled people on foot, and cars cannot park nearby. Atos has not consulted local disability groups about the choice of site. Will the Minister ask Atos to consult them, in order to ensure that the centre is fully accessible for disabled people before the assessment process begins?

It is vital for such assessment centres to be fully accessible. I should be delighted to take up the point and report back to the hon. Lady.

I am still confused after the Minister’s reply to an earlier question, in which she said that the proposal to cut mobility allowance for people in residential care homes had been withdrawn. Can she tell us why the proposal is still in the Health and Social Care Bill, and specify the nature of the continuing review of the proposal to which she and other Ministers have referred?

The provision in the Bill is intended to ensure that there are no overlapping payments for anyone who is receiving other forms of Government money. That is very straightforward. As I told the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs Riordan), the purpose of the review is to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community are given the support that they need, and that the current confusion ends.