Employment for Disabled People

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons am 2:34 pm ar 13 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:34, 13 Tachwedd 2023

What recent steps his Department has taken to help disabled people to find and remain in employment.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

There are a range of initiatives for supporting disabled people to start, stay in and succeed in work. This includes disability employment advisers, the Work and Health programme, intensive personalised employment support, Access to Work, Disability Confident, the information and advice service, and support in partnership with the health system.

Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Opposition Whip (Commons)

Research by the charity Versus Arthritis has found that one in five people described as economically inactive have a musculoskeletal—MSK—condition. Arthritis and MSK conditions were the cause of over 23 million working days lost in 2021 alone. Will the Minister ask the Chancellor for additional support in the autumn statement, to help people with arthritis and MSK to find and remain in work, and will he meet me and Versus Arthritis to discuss this serious issue further?

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I am always happy to meet colleagues to discuss such issues. It is fair to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put a real emphasis on this policy area in his previous spending announcements; no doubt he will have heard the hon. Lady’s comments in advance of the upcoming autumn statement. When we consider initiatives such as Work Well—our work in respect of occupational health and the consultations on that—we see that a lot of effort and energy have gone into recognising that retention is just as important as job starts.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

In his conference speech, the Secretary of State said there would be a revolution in employment support for people with health conditions and disabilities. Does this revolution include a backlog of 22,432 people waiting for an Access to Work decision, with an average delay of 48 days? Ministers need to get a grip of support for disabled people, rather than vilifying them. The Government’s lack of real action often prevents disabled people from working. Labour has a plan for delivery, so instead of endless reshuffles, why does the Minister not ask his boss to call a general election now?

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I think I will pass up on the invitation at the end of the hon. Lady’s question. The fact is that this Government are concentrating on working hard to support more disabled people into work. We are unlocking that potential with all the help and support around it. The hon. Lady specifically mentioned Access to Work; we now have more than 500 full-time staff members working on that, compared with 375 in March. We are focused on prioritising job starts and streamlining things to make it easier for claims to be processed and for people to get support quicker, as well as that staffing increase. We have a comprehensive plan; the hon. Lady’s plan is hidden somewhere—I am sure we would all love to hear it.