Three services supporting disabled people into employment could be merged under government proposals published today.
The Job Introduction Scheme, which pays a wage subsidy to employers, Work Preparation for disabled people and Workstep, which provides support for disabled people while in employment, would be replaced by a single programme.
The proposal, contained in a Department for Work and Pensions consultation on improving specialist disability employment services, would provide disabled people with an “integrated support package” tailored to individual needs.
The consultation document said services were “too segregated and overly complex” and that some people were failing to access services or experiencing “unhelpful” breaks in their support package.
It highlighted wide variation of performance between Workstep providers and said there were “too many small and poorly performing contracts” in the scheme.
The document also cited figures showing that only about 1,600 of 7,500 disabled people supported under Work Preparation entered employment within six months, and said this “varied signifiantly” between regions.
The consultation proposed restricting the wage subsidy to employers of disabled people – currently £75 a week for up to 13 weeks under the Job Introduction Scheme – to cases where employers make adjustments and give practical support.
It also proposed scrapping a £1 million-a-year factory support grant, currently provided under Workstep for supported businesses to buy new machinery or modernise services, and suggested directing the money to individual service users instead.
Other proposals included making disability employment advisers in Jobcentre Plus offices the single point of contact for specialist disability employment services.