Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Progress Recruitment

REFORMS TO INCAPACITY BENEFITS

What are the implications of DWP's proposals for the new structure of incapacity benefits? Do they address the complications inherent in the existing incapacity benefits system? Is a dual benefit the right approach? Could it be improved?

  1.  The approach to change the inherent message of "incapable" is warmly welcomed. I support the notion of dual benefit based on need rather than ability to work. If we start from the premise that all people are capable of work but acknowledge that for some that may not be achievable because the support they need is not available. For example someone with profound and multiple disabilities is more likely to succeed in the work if he/she has 1:1 specialist support and is supported in a job that has been carved to make full use of the persons skills in relation to the employers need. If this level of support and expertise were not available then the person would need to remain on the higher benefit. I propose that care is taken not to exclude people with potential simply because the complexity of their needs means they are less likely to access mainstream employment.

Will the reforms help to improve work incentives for sick and disabled people?

  2.  From a service providers perspective yes. Especially the safety net of return to benefit if the job is not the right job. A reassurance that a return to benefit is not a once only option, people often need to try a variety of jobs. The nature of work, in for example Blackpool, is often seasonal. People need to feel secure taking seasonal work and when the job ends being able to return to benefits. Having shown he/she can work should not be punished.

Is it possible to distinguish between those who are able to return to work and those who cannot?

  3.  I believe where people have significant disabilities the potential for success in employment is often not visible to those without the first hand experience of good employment support services. This is potentially damaging for people who are too often more successful in work than others with more minor disabilities where the person is not motivated to work or is unsupported. I would therefore suggest that there may be a way to distinguish, however, it needs to be assessed on a broad range of criteria, not simply skills and perceived ability.

Will the reforms address the main areas of concern with the current system?

  4.  Yes, especially if sufficient work is done on the prevailing attitudes and perceptions.

THE EXPERIENCE OF SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE

Are people with different disabilities and health conditions, in both pilot and non-pilot areas, given appropriate support by Jobcentre Plus? Is there a tendency to help those perceived as closer to the labour market?

  5.  The perception is that those with high support needs will be excluded. This may not be the reality.

How do personal advisers work in collaboration with other Jobcentre Plus staff such as Disability Employment Advisers and with Job Brokers?

  6.  The relationship between local JCP and Progress is seamless. There is a shared commitment to work collaboratively in our shared goal of employment success. Likewise our relationship with Shaw Trust (as job brokers) is solid and focused on the outcome for the job seeker.

  7.  We work collaboratively by establishing a value base, being clear about the goal and freely giving and sharing our individual expertise and contribution for the benefit of the job seeker.

THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE AND VOLUNTARY SECTORS

Have the private and voluntary sectors been successfully involved in the Pathways pilots? How can they be further involved in the reform of incapacity benefits?

  8.  Sadly not all—certainly not smaller organisations. Access to a common ground forum would help—perhaps through the Local Area Agreement forum?

Deborah Parker

September 2005



 
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