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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Jonathan Shaw): On 3 March the Government published the five-year cross-Government Independent Living Strategy. The strategy sets out a series of Government commitments aimed at ensuring that disabled people have choice and control over the support they need to live their everyday lives.
The strategy was produced in partnership with disabled people and we need to ensure that disabled people are actively involved in making the strategy a reality and checking that good progress is being made. Consequently, the launch of the strategy saw the start of a consultation to seek views on how best to do this.
Following the consultation, and the further involvement of disabled people in the development of the Governments response, the Government have decided to implement the following steps to make sure disabled people are actively involved in the implementation and monitoring of the strategy:
Establish an Independent Living Scrutiny Group to review progress on implementing the strategy.
Develop a web-based and print resource to support disabled peoples involvement in local strategic partnership boards.
Work with Equality 2025 to look at how best to use and develop existing networks to form a network of networks, creating a two-way channel for communication between Government and disabled people.
Examine some of the options, for example, specific courses, suggested by respondents for building leadership capacity.
Work to help disabled peoples organisations benefit more from new opportunities to build capacity in the third sector.
The Governments response will be available on the Office for Disability Issues website later today (http://www.odi.gov.uk/working/independentlivingstrategy.asp)
Remploy are due to publish their annual report and accounts in November 2008 giving further details of its performance throughout 2007-08. Copies of the annual report and accounts will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses, when it is published.
On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I have written to the Chairman of Remploy formally approving the provisionally agreed 2008-09 Performance and Resources Agreement between the Department and the Company. The Performance and Resources Agreement includes targets for the current year. The agreement has been negotiated on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The targets for 2008-09 are:
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I have today published the Governments response to Dame Carol Blacks review of the health of Britains working age population, Working for a healthier tomorrow.
Dame Carols review, published on 17 March 2008, built upon the growing evidence that work is generally good for health and that the mounting costs of ill-health are unacceptable, whether for individuals and families, for businesses or for society as a whole. Her analysis brought into focus, as never before, the scale of the economic cost of ill-health and its impact not just on work but on human life. She laid the foundation for a consensus around a new vision for health and work, setting out radical and far-reaching proposals to prevent illness; make early access to work-related health support available to all; and improve the health of the workless so that everyone with the potential to work has the support they need to do so.
Today we are responding in full to Dame Carols recommendations. Our response Improving health and work: changing lives sets out our proposals. It includes a series of pilots and programmes with the potential to redefine the ambition of health and employment support in Britain; shifting the focus of welfare beyond helping people into work to helping them stay there; and further widening the focus of national healthcare from treatment to prevention and early intervention.
Changing the paper based sick note to an electronic fit note;
Piloting a Fit for Work service;
Creating a National Centre for Working-Age Health and Well-being;
Establishing a network of Health, Work and Well-being Co-ordinators;
Introducing an occupational health helpline;
Extending NHS Plus ;
A review of the health and well-being of the NHS.
Dame Carol set out a challenging vision for improving the health of the working age population. Ultimately responsibility rests with a range of people: Government; employers; trades unions; healthcare professionals; and
individuals themselves. Today, with the publication of our response we are setting out Governments real commitment to this agenda and how we will play our part.