The Government know that getting ex-offenders into work is a crucial part of rehabilitation. DWP prison work coaches and jobcentre work coaches provide tailored support to ex-offenders. The DWP works collaboratively with Ministry of Justice on its education and employment strategy, creating a system where prisoners are on a path to employment as soon as they enter prison.
People from all walks of life have to undergo work capability assessments, but ex-offenders have complex needs and often institutionalised experiences. What measures is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that the assessors themselves are taking the appropriate measures?
My hon. Friend raises a good point. Healthcare professionals are subject to a rigorous recruitment process, followed by a comprehensive training programme in disability assessment for physical and mental health conditions, and have to be approved by the Department. They are then required to complete a programme of continuing professional development.
Reoffending rates among those who have served a sentence of less than 12 months are a staggering 64%. The Ministry of Justice has signalled a clear intent to move away from this model of sentencing. What discussions have Ministers had with the Ministry of Justice about ensuring that community-based sentences have substantive support around employment to ensure that reoffending is curbed and sentences deliver meaningful rehabilitation and workplace opportunities?
I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Being relatively new in post, I have not had those conversations as yet, but I do work very closely with my counterpart at the Ministry of Justice and will be having such conversations.
We look forward to an update in due course and we are grateful to the hon. Gentleman.