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Disabled People in Work

Volume 718: debated on Monday 11 July 2022

As I said to the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows) , we are absolutely committed to being able to continue to increase the number of disabled people in work. There is a range of Government initiatives to achieve this, including the Work and Health programme, the Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, Access to Work, Disability Confident, and supporting partnerships with the health system.

My office is part of the Disability Confident scheme started by the Department. I strongly support the scheme because it encourages employers to think differently about disability, and to take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people in their workplace. How will my hon. Friend work to promote that scheme, which is a valuable tool to close the employment gap that we have already talked about today?

First, I thank my hon. Friend and any other hon. and right hon. Members who are members of that scheme, because it is incredibly important that we do that from this place as we encourage employers of all shapes and sizes to be involved in the scheme. Secondly, we will continue to promote the scheme from the Department as widely as possible through a variety of communications. Thirdly, because our goal to continue to reduce the disability employment gap remains at the forefront, we want to grow commitment and action across and outside of Government. It has to be a shared ambition across society and that is well encapsulated in the Disability Confident scheme.

The Government’s response last November to the Select Committee’s report on the disability employment gap promised key improvements to Access to Work to make it easier for people to use. Can the Minister give us an update on progress with that? Specifically, the trial of Access to Work passports started last November, so that people can take their support from one job to another. Can the Minister tell us whether that will be extended to everybody on the scheme and when we can expect that to happen?

These are incredibly important details and aspects of the Access to Work scheme, and the right hon. Gentleman is correct that those improvements are in the pipeline. We have been able to pilot a number of different passports. I will write to him with details and I am also with his Committee next week, where I can provide the precise details of that. By way of example, a passport now in operation assists freelancers and people who work in contract form to be able to carry their requirements with them from job to job, so that it is easier for them to stay and succeed in work, which is the goal we are talking about. I also look forward to talking further with him about the digital improvements we want to make to the process, again to help people get that support earlier and faster, so that they can get the benefits of being in work.