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Work, Health and Disability

Volume 616: debated on Monday 31 October 2016

Today, we are publishing a Green Paper on work, health and disability. It represents an important step towards building a society that works for everyone, where all disabled people and those with health conditions are able to go as far as their talents will take them.

The Green Paper, published by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health, marks a new era of joint working to tackle the barriers that disabled people have faced for far too long and redefine how we think about work, health and disability.

A disability employment gap of 32 percentage points currently exists between disabled people and non-disabled people. We are bold in our ambition to halve that gap. We must also be bold in action, on the part of the welfare and health systems, employers and wider society.

We need a more personalised and integrated health and welfare system that puts individuals at its heart, but also one that protects those who need the most support. A welfare system that provides work for those who can, support for those who could and care for those who cannot.

The Green Paper focuses on how best to provide the support for those who could work. We will look at how best to improve the way that work and sickness certification works. Jobcentre work coaches will be encouraged to signpost claimants to therapy.

The Green Paper also consults on the crucial role that employers need to play, for this is not a challenge for the Government alone. Sickness absence costs business nearly £10 billion a year and having a strong, diverse labour market is vital for the economy’s future growth. The Green Paper asks how businesses can help attract and support disabled people in the workforce.

As part of the consultation, over the coming months, we will be talking with disabled people and those who have health conditions. We will be talking to carers, families, professionals, and a range of organisations who are so important to getting this right.

Together, our plan to help and support more disabled people into work is a key step towards building a great meritocracy where all that matters is the talent you have and how hard you are prepared to work.