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Health and Work Programme

Volume 629: debated on Monday 9 October 2017

I am pleased to announce to the House that six contracts between the Department and the successful suppliers to the Health and Work Programme were signed on 29 September.

It is clear that the Health and Work programme presents an opportunity to bring a lot more disabled people into work. Will the Minister tell the House what requirements are being put on contract providers?

The key to the programme is that participants will receive much more personalised and tailored support. We need to provide bespoke things to individuals who have complex needs if we want them to be successful. We will be looking for providers to forge links with employers, nationally and locally, but also with health and social care and other local services.

The Government have backtracked on their commitment to halve the disability employment gap, and the funding for the Work and Health programme will be as little as £130 million a year, which is a fraction of what was set aside for the Work programme. Given the recent report from the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which condemned the Government’s progress, can the Minister advise when they will finally publish their response to the “Work, health and disability” Green Paper? Will the Government respond to the UN’s concerns and include high-quality, impairment-specific support, which disabled people have been calling for?

May I start by welcoming the hon. Lady to her post?

Despite the weeks of the general election, we are still going to meet our original timetable to publish the health and work road map, which will set out in detail not just the Health and Work programme, which is only one small part of what we are planning, but a full comprehensive package to deliver personalised, tailored support for disabled people, support for employers, healthcare reforms and welfare reforms.

The Office for Disability Issues is looking at the UN report; we volunteered to put ourselves through this process, and there is more we can do to lever in some of the things in that report to help achieve some of our ambitions, particularly on accessibility.