Government Green Paper launches wide-reaching consultation
Leading health employment provider, APM, has welcomed the release of a Government Green Paper, marking the launch of a wide-reaching consultation into employment support for people with disabilities and health conditions.
The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper - Improving Lives - is intended to highlight how early treatment for mental and physical conditions can help keep people in work, to the benefit of their health and social wellbeing.
The paper includes plans to re-shape work capability assessments, introduce new Personal Support Packages to offer more support to unemployed people and create a Disability Confident Business Leaders Group to work alongside ministers.
Its release comes at a time when less than half of disabled people are in employment compared to 80% of the non-disabled population. Despite a record-breaking labour market, some 4.6 million disabled people and those with long-term health conditions remain out of work.
APM Director for Integrated Health and Care Services, Pat Russell said: "The paper is a great analysis of the current problem and there are some facts within it that any civilised society should be shocked by.
"It brings together a view on four big systemic problems that have been said in different places - employer reluctance, limited or late access to health services, design problems in the benefit and welfare system and low expectations across society about the value of work and the capabilities of people.
"Who would disagree with the vision? And it's good to see a sense of realism in that this is a 10-year challenge and not a quick fix."
The Work and Health Programme will be a central pillar of the government's approach to tackle the current disability employment gap, with more specialist support offered to people who are likely to be able to find work within 12 months.
Disabled people can volunteer for the programme at any time, but as Pat explains there is much work to be done with a group of people who feel let down by government reforms.
"Government has a long way to go to earn trust. There seems to be a degree of surprise that people in the support group don't volunteer for help back to work.
"While benefit rates are linked to proving that you are not capable of work, why would you set about doing things that show you might be? Ideas about changes to assessments are a step in the right direction."