Work schemes not evenly focused

Council schemes to help disabled people into
work are focused mainly on people with learning difficulties and mental health
problems, with little attention given to people with physical disabilities, say
government inspectors.

The Social Services Inspectorate  evaluated services for disabled people and
those with mental health problems in eight councils between February and
November last year. The findings, published this week, found that advocacy
services and employment schemes, where they existed, were mainly focused on
people with learning difficulties. They also show that there were “few maps and
signposts to help disabled people wanting to find work to find their way”.

The report recommends more effective
co-ordination between agencies, and more expert information and advice to be
made available to disabled people.

Averil Nottage, deputy chief inspector of the
SSI, said: “Although the inspection found examples of good practice in some
councils, the overall picture shows that the [councils need to give] a stronger
commitment to work.”

A spokesperson for the Shaw Trust, which works
with social services and health authorities to help disabled people into work,
said it was crucial that local authorities looked harder at what services they
were providing.

“The employment service is focused
more and more on enabling people who need short-term support to find work,” she
said. “Unless social services pick up the challenge of working with those who
have longer term needs there’s a danger they’ll disappear into a black hole
where there’s no service provision.”

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