The Conservative shadow minister for disabled people has said that one of his key election policies will be how to get more disabled people into work.
Mark Harper MP was speaking to a meeting of the all party parliamentary disability group, before an audience that included leading disabled campaigners and charity representatives.
Harper said his party would only make election promises it knew it could deliver, and focused strongly on Conservative plans to use projected benefits savings to provide support to find jobs for a “significant number” of disabled people who are unemployed but able to work.
He said his party would pay private and voluntary sector providers of employment support by results – according to whether they found disabled people “sustainable” jobs that lasted at least a year.
Harper also said a Conservative government would ensure that care and support services offered to disabled people were “properly personalised and fitted to the needs of the individual”.
He said: “Too many times, disabled people are expected to fit their lives around the care and support they get.”
And he said his party “very much support” government moves towards individual budgets and direct payments, but that they wanted to “see that go much further and faster”.
His party would also retain disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA), following suggestions that the government could scrap DLA and AA for those over 65 and use the savings to help pay for local authority social care services.
Harper said a Conservative government would also simplify the benefits system “to make sure it is simple for people to use”.
It would also repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act, which states that MPs who are sectioned for at least six months must lose their seats.
But when asked by Simone Aspis, from the Alliance for Inclusive Education, how his party would “secure disabled people’s rights to access mainstream education” – following his party’s manifesto commitment to “end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools” – Harper said his party believed parents should have the option to choose a special or mainstream school for their child.
3 March 2010