New jobs strategy has ‘huge ministerial support’


A new government strategy will aim to increase the number of people with learning difficulties in work, despite the recession.
Anne Williams, the co-national director for learning disabilities, said the cross-government employment strategy, which was mentioned in the Valuing People Now learning difficulties strategy, had “huge ministerial support”.
She told the Community Care Live event in May: “We know that the economic situation is difficult, but we do not want that to be used as an excuse.”
The strategy, to be published in June, will look at professionals’ expectations of young people with learning difficulties, and will make it clear there are equal rights to work experience while at school.
Williams said previously there had been an emphasis on the “needs” of people with learning difficulties, rather than their “contribution” and “potential”. “We have really got to change that round,” she said.
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, praised the “positive working” between the government and the social care sector around Valuing People Now.
But he was far less positive about the job market. He said the number of people with learning difficulties in work had not been rising significantly, with less than one in five in paid work, and less than one in ten in “a real job with real hours”.
In the current economic climate, he said, there was a need for ongoing support.
“Helping to keep people in work is going to be at least as important, at least in the next year or two, as the creation of new jobs for people with learning disabilities.”
He said the new strategy would need to look at the “benefits trap”, which can prevent people with learning difficulties from benefiting financially from part-time work.
Richard West, co-chair of the National Advisory Group on Learning Disability and Ethnicity, said: “How many people with a learning disability from a black and minority ethnic background ever get a job? This needs to be changed.”