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Welfare reform and access to work: what's in store? Caroline Ellis Joint Deputy Chief Executive RADAR - the disability network.

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Presentation on theme: "Welfare reform and access to work: what's in store? Caroline Ellis Joint Deputy Chief Executive RADAR - the disability network."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welfare reform and access to work: what's in store? Caroline Ellis Joint Deputy Chief Executive RADAR - the disability network

2 Background Shift to ‘active’ welfare state accompanied by shift to greater benefits conditionality over past 10 years Benign economic conditions up till now! Step-change in rights of disabled people to protection against disability discrimination in the workplace Massive problem of labour market exclusion and disabled people being ‘written off’ Top level goals: 80% employment; end to child poverty; 1 million off Incapacity Benefit;disability equality by 2025

3 Trajectory of reform: recent milestones Welfare Reform Act 2007: Employment and Support Allowance Ready for work: full employment in our generation DWP 2007 (heralded Flexible New Deal) Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work, David Freud (upfront investment in support – funded through future benefits savings; paying private & voluntary sector providers by outcomes) April 2008 Pathways to Work rolled out nationally

4 No one written off – the next stage of reform Central proposition of Welfare Reform Green Paper: “more support: more responsibility” More Support? Moving existing Incapacity Benefit Claimants onto Employment and Support Allowance: all to have access to personalised back to work support Doubling of Access to Work budget to help extra 25,000 people Right to control’ for disabled people – take employment support as part of an Individual Budget New specialist disability employment provision Piloting ‘Fit to Work’ services Return to work credit will be available for IB and ESA claimants for 52 weeks after their return to work

5 No one written off More responsibility? Requirement on those who need it to undertake training to help them get into work Requiring jobseekers to do more the longer they claim, including working full-time in return for their benefits at any stage where it would be effective Potentially requiring ESA claimants to engage in job search (in addition to obligations for work related activity) or face sanctions for not doing so PLUS giving private and voluntary providers the right to bid for any back-to-work service

6 What’s RADAR’s view ? No one written off? Absolutely! Our members think: The majority of disabled people can work – and should do so with effective support and benefits protection. Not just any old job: people need careers (economic imperative to address skills gaps) Question is whether Green Paper will deliver this support – much refinement likely to be required. Balance between rights and responsibilities is NOT RIGHT

7 Concerns, uncertainties, omissions Lower levels of benefits uprating and potential loss of income for all IB/ESA claimants Return to work credit – not enough to make work pay Nothing on closing the equal pay gap disabled people face – this 10% pay gap needs exactly the same focused attention as we are (rightly) giving to the gender pay gap Greater conditionality at time when unemployment rising, is that fair? What account will be taken of labour market disadvantage? Not enough on improving skills and qualifications amongst disabled people

8 More concerns! Not enough on support for those with fluctuating conditions Access to work – should be available for voluntary work Need for massive employer awareness campaign on Access to Work Absence of support for employers when they need to know how to recruit, retain or promote Need right to employment retention assessment and rehab leave Nothing on tackling employers’ stigmatising and discriminatory behaviour. Specialist providers could too easily get squeezed out – must be more of a role for them or the ‘hardest to help’ groups will suffer

9 Work isn’t everything People want a LIFE not just a job Need to reinvigorate campaign for rights to independent living

10 What do you think? Contact me: Caroline Ellis RADAR 12 City Forum 250 City Road London EC1V 8AF Tel: Minicom: Fax:


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