Needs of disabled people not met by government work scheme

The government’s flagship ‘Access to Work’ scheme is failing to
properly meet the needs of disabled people, new research has

The scheme, run by the Jobcentre Plus agency on behalf of the
Department for Work and Pensions, provides support for disabled
people to help them get back into the workforce and maintain their

But research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ‘Thriving and
surviving at work: disabled people’s employment strategies’, shows
that, while Access to Work has helped some people overcome
practical difficulties in the workplace, many reported problems
with it. These include delays in assessing need and providing
appropriate services, lack of knowledge and skills on a range of
impairments, limits on personal assistance provision and
difficulties in establishing funding partnerships.

The report says there is “still a long way to go in
understanding and responding systematically to disabled workers’
needs”. It recommends Jobcentre Plus should be better informed
about the range of disabled workers’ needs, consistent in the
provision of services, and more responsive and flexible. It should
also disseminate the experiences of users.

Margaret Lavery, senior campaigns manager at the Royal
Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, called the basic
lack of understanding of disabled people’s needs at Jobcentre Plus
“extremely worrying”.

“People are having to wait forever for equipment which can
affect the way a person does their job, which in turn can affect
their confidence. And where the systems aren’t at their best
employers may also have a bad experience,” she explained.

The study used a national screening survey of strategies and
support, which included workers with physical and sensory
impairments and people with mental health problems and learning

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