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We will also ensure that, from 2010, all existing incapacity benefit customers will have the new work
17 Mar 2008 : Column 52WS
capability assessment applied when their entitlement to benefit is due to be reassessed. The new test will be a more accurate assessment of functional ability, reflecting the activities needed in today’s workplace, and looking at what people can do, as well as what they cannot do. In particular the new test will include a more extensive and fairer assessment of mental function.

Dame Carol rightly points out that mental ill-health represents a key challenge for Government. As such, supporting people with mental health conditions will be a central element of the Government response, with our proposed national strategy on mental health and work forming part of the package. The development of the strategy will be led in part by Dame Carol herself, working closely with stakeholders in this area. As we develop this strategy we will assess the effectiveness of existing programmes and treatments on people with mental health conditions. We will also consider the findings of the Royal College of Psychiatrists report, “Mental Health and Work”, commissioned to support Dame Carol’s review.

We are also committed to ensuring that our “Pathways to Work” and “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” (IAPT) programmes are aligned as they are rolled out across the country, ensuring that people receive mental health and employment support in a joined-up fashion. I can today also announce that DWP will provide funding to test placing private or voluntary sector advisers in the IAPT programme, offering employment advice to working age people receiving therapy, whether in employment or not.

The measures I have set out today are our first steps in the journey set out by Dame Carol. We are committed to making this journey and radically improving the health of working age people. We want to help more people to enter or remain in work and establish healthier workplaces as the norm, with an ultimate ambition of good jobs for all. Success in this agenda will benefit individuals, families, communities, businesses and the economy as a whole.

Copies of “Working for a Healthier Tomorrow” and its accompanying evidence summary will be placed in the Library of the House.

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