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Work Programme

Volume 531: debated on Monday 18 July 2011

10. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of user groups in assisting people with disabilities to obtain work through the Work Programme. (66539)

I regard the role of specialist organisations and specialist user groups as extremely important for the delivery of the Work programme. They, above all others involved, will be able to provide the specialist support that individuals with particularly serious challenges in their lives face in trying to get into the workplace.

I thank the Minister for his answer. However, given that only 230 disabled people secured work through residential training colleges last year, at an average cost of £78,000 per person, will the Secretary of State commit to implementing the recommendations as set out in last week’s Sayce review on allowing such colleges to develop as centres of excellence and to adapt their provision to operate directly in provider markets—for instance, as subcontractors in the Work programme?

We are considering the Sayce recommendations and have not yet formally responded about our decisions on whether to adopt most of them. However, my hon. Friend makes a sensible point. I have visited the Queen Elizabeth Foundation for Disabled People near my constituency in Surrey, where I said to people that I would encourage them to look to see whether they can enter the Work programme to provide specialist support as subcontractors. I hope that all the colleges will consider taking such an approach.