Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Progress Recruitment after the publication of the Welfare Reform Green Paper

  All moves towards ensuring all citizens have the right to enter the world of work is warmly welcomed.

  An enabling system that acknowledges and provides for individualised, tailored support is essential if people with more complex barriers to employment are to be part of the included community.

  Additional help and support must be available to people who are at the margins. This is likely to be costly and far from the standardised support that will be beneficial to the majority. Rather than exclude those who need a lot more/different support by "excusing" them from participation, it is hoped that the application of the reform truly focuses on employment opportunities for all.

  A major and far-reaching development is the long awaited change of name. Most people working with disability or disabled people will be delighted by the removal of the damming label—incapable.

  Access to occupational health support is very warmly welcomed. As a small voluntary organisation access to help like this will be invaluable, providing access is free or at least affordable.

  Rewards for GPs are also welcomed. It is proposed that support be available for GPs in the shape of alternatives to offer to patients who come in search of respite from work. Access to supported employment type support either through an extension of pathways or as a parallel provision will see the achievement of this aim.

  To enable people to return to work the availability of support must extend beyond "in work", to be available in and around work to assist people to reach the stage where they are able to return to work.

  I appreciate the thinking around payment on results; however, in order to include smaller more specialist and successful voluntary organisations, consideration must be given to payments in advance.

  Payment of a higher rate to those with the most significant disability makes sense, however, reward for people in this group who do take on some form of work must be built into the system. Please do not bar this group from the world of work. This group must also be better off for working.

  The move to protect the level of benefits of existing claimants is essential if people are to have the confidence to take the huge and potentially risky step of trying to work again.

  In the delivery of welfare reform it is vital that measures of success include distance travelled. For some people getting to a job interview is nothing, for others it is a million miles from where they started.

  Private and voluntary organisations can play a key role in delivering many programmes but the Government must support the concept of full cost recovery if all voluntary organisations can enjoy the level playing field, which enables them to provide a broader range of services than they do currently.

  The long-term goal of an 80% employment rate is a meaningful goal. Account should be taken of the changes in the labour market, as more employers are recruiting from overseas and results viewed in this light.

  Housing benefit is rightly acknowledged as key. People need reassurance that their home is safe if they are to take the brave step into paid employment.

  I commend the aim of a single, transparent system, with a single gateway to financial and back to work support for all claimants, however that must be extended to back to and in work support.


Question 1

  Access to practical help to audit the workplace and make recommendations for improvements.

  Accreditation linked with IIP or similar. Employers could use this to attract potential employees.

Question 2

  Progress Recruitment has found many GPs are happy to support people to return to work when they learn about the support we offer to the employee. We believe GPs need to be confident that support will be there for the patient. Access to information about supported employment and the ability to refer people for in work support would make a significant impact.

Question 3

  As a small business Progress Recruitment would welcome practical support to design and implement a managing absence policy. This would include free access to expert/legal advice.

Question 4

  The range is suitable, providing there is 1:1 support (where required) to ensure people can take part and benefit. A supported employment package of vocational profile, job specification, job search, job analysis, matching, job tasters, and in and at work support will be required by many people in this category.

Question 5

  The retention of DLA is a very positive move. This has been a major influence on people's willingness to "risk" work, especially when they have been dependent on benefits for many years. In some cases 02 to 30 years.

Question 7

  In our experience people need to have evidence and reassurance that they will be protected. Supported permitted work is gaining credibility and continues to be a good route for many disabled people. Our preference is that people are encouraged to earn "safely" rather than take part in long term unpaid work, albeit promoted as a route to paid work. In many instances people do not take the step. Employers often view those they pay and those they don't very differently.

Deborah Parker

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