Memorandum submitted by Shaw Trust

 

1. About Shaw Trust

 

1.1 Shaw Trust is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee. We provide training and work opportunities for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market due to disability, ill health or other social circumstances. We are the largest third sector provider of employment services for disabled people in the UK and have been delivering employment programmes on behalf of DWP for more than 25 years.

 

1.2 Shaw Trust's delivery of employment programmes on behalf of DWP includes:

 

WORKSTEP: our contract is to provide employment support for more than 2,800 severely disabled people

New Deal for Disabled People: Shaw Trust is contracted to deliver services in 17 of the 19 districts contract districts

Pathways to Work: Shaw Trust holds 5 Pathways to Work contracts

 

 

2. Our response to the Inquiry

 

2.1 DWP has made great strides in improving employment opportunities for disabled people. We welcome wholeheartedly the shift in emphasis from the notion of incapacity to individual ability.

 

2.2 Third sector involvement in the delivery of provision such as WORKSTEP, New Deal for Disabled People and Pathways to Work has proved positive for clients - ensuring that support is tailored to each individual, and complex needs can addressed by specialist providers.

 

2.3 Particularly welcome has been the changes to DEL/AME which will allow the reinvestment of benefit savings back into employment programmes. This change will be particularly important for long-term incapacity benefit claimants whom would not otherwise have had the opportunity to make use of Pathways to Work provision.

 

2.4 We have been disappointed by the negative language that continues to be used by Ministers in relation to benefit claimants. We support the Government's efforts to challenge the notion of long-term benefit dependency but we feel that the responsibility does not lie solely with individual claimants. More needs to be done by Government to ensure that employers play their part, and act responsibly and fairly towards all employees and potential employees.

 

2.5 We believe that there is a strong case for implementing job retention measures, which would set out a framework for employers in supporting employees with disabilities or long-term health conditions. This will incentivise early intervention when health problems first arise.

 

2.6 More should also be done to encourage employers to recognise the business case for acting on health. For example, According to mental health charity MIND, one in four of us will suffer from mental ill health during our lifetime. The cost to British business is up to 9 billion each year. Action on mental ill health is good for individuals, good for business and good for the economy.

 

2.7 Employers are often unaware of support that is available for mental ill health and/or other health or disability-related conditions and often over-estimate the cost of making reasonable adjustments for staff. This can be a further barrier to improving employee health. More could be done to educate employers (particularly SME's) on this matter.

 

2.8 We welcome the new approach for Access to Work and 'up front' budgets to address issues related to the barriers to sustained employment. At present access to funding can be delayed while employer, employee and provider identify and agree on work barriers and the measures required to overcome those barriers. For clients who are job ready, or already working and requiring new reasonable adjustments to sustain them in work, a more flexible fast track approach would be beneficial, allowing funds to be accessed with less bureaucracy and delay.

 

November 2008