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Disabled People: Employment

Volume 608: debated on Wednesday 13 April 2016

The Government believe every disabled person who wants to work should be able to work. As announced in the spending review, there will be a real-terms spending increase on supporting disabled people into work. That will ensure that valuable talent and skill will be further recognised in the Welsh workforce. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Disability rights organisations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and many others have decried the lack of evidence in support of the Government’s cutting £1,500 a year from disabled people who have been found not fit for work. How many employers in Wales have the Government signed up as active Disability Confident employers for those disabled people who are fit for work?

It is important to point out, first, that supporting disabled people into the workplace is incredibly important, and this Government have a track record of success. Over the past 12 months, we have seen 150,000 disabled people enter the workplace; the figure is more than 300,000 over the past 24 months. I am proud of the fact that Swansea is the first disabled-friendly city in the UK, supporting disabled people into employment. On the specific numbers, I will write to the hon. Lady with the details that she requests.

Will the Minister concede that with more than a third of work capability assessment appeals being successful, Government policy is damaging the lives of a great many disabled people and starving them of money that they need in order to live a reasonable quality of life?

Although the work capability assessments need to be refined and are being refined, it is crucial to highlight the fact that this Government strongly believe that people who are disabled and who want to work and are able to work have a contribution to make. The aim of this Government’s policies is to help people into employment where that is possible, and the figures show that our policies are successful.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I welcome the Minister to his post. Is he aware that the callous policy of the Conservative Government of implementing personal independence payments is leading to many people being prevented from working because Motability cars are being taken away from them, which prevents them from being able to travel to work? Will he speak to the Prime Minister, who is sitting next to him, to try to talk some sense into him?

I find the hon. Gentleman’s comments slightly disappointing. When he looks at all the changes in the employment situation in his constituency, he should welcome this Government’s work on welfare reform. The welfare reform changes that we are putting in place are contributing to behavioural change, leading to more people supporting their own families and contributing to the economy. When he looks at the statistics for the Wrexham constituency, he should welcome the changes, instead of condemning them.