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Volume 716: debated on Wednesday 6 January 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the adult autism strategy will contain a commitment that all frontline JobcentrePlus staff have basic training in autism. [HL729]

Following the recent consultation exercise on the Autism Bill, the Department for Work and Pensions is working closely with the Department of Health and others on the planned autism strategy.

Jobcentre Plus is committed to supporting disabled people, including people with autism. There are a number of learning products currently available to frontline staff, with signposts to sources of specialist help such as disability employment advisers. Jobcentre Plus staff have also been encouraged to access telephone tutorials on autism, led by the Employers Forum on Disability.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all young people with autism have the opportunity to undertake work experience. [HL730]

The Department for Work and Pensions is represented on the Department of Health-led steering group, working with the National Autistic Society, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and other organisations following the recent consultation A better future: a consultation on a future strategy for adults with autistic spectrum conditions and the Public Accounts Committee report, published on 15 October 2009 Supporting people with autism through adulthood. A formal response to the consultation is expected to be published early next year.

Work Preparation and WORKSTEP can support disabled people thinking about entering work by helping them gain work experience, and where possible, progress into paid employment. This provision continues to be available for people with autism.

From 6 April 2009, customers starting a work trial became eligible to apply for Access to Work support. Work trials are used to establish an individual's suitability for a particular job vacancy by giving them an opportunity to try the job. Work trials can last between one day and six weeks.

Pathways to Work is a pan-disability programme, available for recipients of employment and support allowance, offering flexible support according to the needs of the individual. This could include a work placement where this is thought to be beneficial.

There is support available for all young people through all stages of a jobseeker's allowance claim, including a guaranteed job offer and meaningful activity (work experience), before they reach the 12 month stage of their claim. From January 2010 the guaranteed offer will come at the six month stage and by the 10 month stage it is expected that an offer would have been accepted. This will be a mandatory requirement from April 2010.

In 2008 the Department for Children, Schools and Families funded the establishment of the Autism Education Trust, which works closely with the department to improve outcomes for those with autism. The department recognises that high quality-work experience can make a real difference to aspirations.

In January 2010 the work experience placement element of Backing Young Britain goes live, offering young jobseeker's allowance claimants aged between 18 and 21 a short-term work experience placement.