Government told jobs target for disabled people is unrealistic

Doubt has been cast on the ability of the government to meet its
target of helping 30,000 disabled people into employment, following
the scrapping of a controversial part of the New Deal for Disabled
People programme, writes Sally

The Association for Supported Employment, whose members work
with the employment service to place and support disabled people at
work, is calling for the tendering process for NDDP to be

Most of the organisation’s 200-plus members did not bid
originally because they objected to part of the scheme.
Consequently, they claim, the government is missing out on their
specialist knowledge. But the part of the scheme to which they
objected has now been scrapped.

Under original proposals every fifth disabled person who
approached a supported employment organisation for the job broker
service would have had their help deferred for a year, and be
placed in a control group so that the government could compare the
success of those who received the service against those who did

But serious concerns about the policy were raised by Afse
members, who wrote to MPs including Hugh Bailey then minister for
NDDP, arguing that it was unethical to deny immediate help to
people who had sought it.

Donna Kenny, chairperson of Afse, said: “Most of us felt that it
wasn’t ethical to turn people away. At one of the meetings I
objected to senior civil servants, but was told that the only way
the Treasury would release money for the scheme was if we used the
control group. I was told in no uncertain terms that the government
would not change its mind.”

The NDDP is part of the government’s plan to reduce
employment among disadvantaged groups under the neighbourhood
renewal strategy. Disabled people are seven times more likely to be
unemployed than the rest of the population.

A spokesperson for the department for work and pensions said:
“We won’t be retendering. The job broker service is now up
and running. To reopen the tendering process would be too costly
and cause disruption to clients. We are happy that we will be able
to meet the target.”

But Kenny said: “A lot of the good agencies, people with
specialist knowledge, didn’t bid. It will be difficult for
the government now to meet its target for getting disabled people
into work.”




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