The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions have received the recommendations from my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) and agree that the requirement to achieve level 1 English and Maths in an apprenticeship is a hurdle for some young people with learning disabilities. Therefore, subject to a candidate demonstrating need, we will look to adjust this requirement to entry level 3 as soon as possible and monitor the impact.
Last month, I received a wonderful letter from a 13-year-old constituent, Eleanor, who wrote to me about her 20-year-old brother. Richard has autism and learning difficulties, and struggles to find work with the right support. The news about the educational assistance is therefore very welcome. However, he is met with frustration and discrimination in employment. Eleanor said:
“seeing how the public can treat him is terrible and it’s hard on me, him, and the rest of our family. Please help him and people with disabilities to have a fairer life with employment opportunities.”
Does the Minister agree that the enormous contribution of disabled employees such as Richard is not yet fully recognised by employers?
The point about employers is absolutely right. That is why we have worked with Autism Alliance to improve knowledge and awareness across our Jobcentre network. We have specialist teams to assist with access to work, and the small employer offer will specifically match employers with the support and help that is available to create more opportunities for disabled people.