They will be given access to the Government’s successful Access to Work scheme, which provides more than £100m to help disabled people into mainstream work by providing specially adapted equipment, support workers and interpreters.
Until now, the scheme has only been available to those in paid work, but the Government has announced today that it will now be extended to those doing work experience placements as well. This will mean more young disabled people can take full advantage of the 100,000 work experience places being offered by the Government each year to help them get the skills they need to find work.
The move follows a review by Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, who produced a series of recommendations on how to use the protected £320m budget for disability employment programmes differently. The Government has accepted all her recommendations.
Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, said:
“We know work experience can make all the difference for young people out there looking for work and it is just the same for a young disabled person.
“For the first time we are giving young disabled jobseekers the support they need to gain vital experience that will help them forge successful careers for themselves in the jobs they want.”
Following Liz Sayce’s review, the Government has invested an extra £15 million in Access to Work to help another 8,000 disabled people in employment. A marketing campaign is also underway to encourage more disabled people, particularly those with mental health conditions and in areas of high unemployment, to find out if they could benefit from the extra cash support on offer through the scheme.
An expert advisory panel to advise the Department for Work and Pensions on the best way to take forward Liz Sayce’s recommendations on Access to Work has been established. They have also been asked to give their own recommendations on how to improve the programme to make it more efficient.
Mike Adams OBE from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp) – a disabled people’s user-led organisation – will lead the panel.
Mike Adams said:
“This is the most radical review of Access to Work in the programme’s history and it’s great to see that the Government has a real commitment to building on Liz Sayce’s work and delivering disability employment support fit for the 21st century.”
Liz Sayce, CEO of Disability Rights UK said:
“I welcome the Government’s plans to implement the recommendations I made on Access to Work so that far more disabled people can get and keep jobs. They are widely supported by disabled people and our organisations – and it’s especially important to improve opportunities for young disabled people who can bring big talents to our economy. The proof of the pudding will be in strong and rapid implementation. Access to Work needs to be transformed so it supports far more disabled people to fulfil potential. I urge the Government to create an action plan and implement change quickly.”