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Disability Confident Scheme

Volume 635: debated on Monday 5 February 2018

20. What progress her Department has made on the implementation of the disability confident scheme. (903753)

There are 5,550 employers currently signed up to the disability confident scheme. The disability confident business leaders group, comprising prominent national businesses, is promoting the scheme to other employers, and all main Departments have now achieved disability confident leader status. I encourage all hon. Members to come along to a drop-in centre I have organised on Wednesday 21 February, 3 pm to 5 pm, in Portcullis House, Room Q, so that they too can become disability confident employers.

It is always useful to have a little bit of additional information, and we are deeply obliged to the Minister.

Last year, I attended a disability confident workshop in my constituency, where unemployment now stands at an all-time low of 1%. Also present were representatives of the DWP and the local council, as well as local employers, many of whom signed up to the scheme immediately. Will my hon. Friend give further feedback on the national roll-out of a programme that encourages employers to take advantage of keen, loyal staff who are disabled?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his local support for the disability confident scheme. I urge all Members to become involved in these wonderful events, where we see hundreds of people signing up to the scheme. It is important for us to continue to build on the constructive and positive feedback that we receive from employers by giving them practical support, so that they can employ more disabled people.

I recently visited the excellent Oak Wood School in my constituency, whose leaders are working hard to get talented young people with special needs into work and work placements when they finish school. Will my hon. Friend, like me, encourage employers in my area to join the disability confident scheme, so that we can give opportunities to those young people, and not just give them hope for the future, but provide the labour market with a number of people who will be able to bring a vast amount of experience and difference to our workplaces?

I was very pleased to hear about the important work being done by Oak Wood School. Last year, more than 500 young people took part in supported internships, and this year the Department for Education has made available just under £10 million of additional funding, which will provide more work placements, particularly for young people with special educational needs. I agree with my hon. Friend that it is vital for us to ensure that more of those young people are given the opportunity to work.

I am grateful to the Minister. I am sure that Members will have an opportunity to pore over her comprehensive reply by moving speedily to the Library, where copies will, I am sure, be located within minutes.