The government has announced its timetable for replacing Labour’s employment schemes with one single work programme for people on out-of-work benefits, including those who are disabled.
In a ministerial statement the Conservative employment minister Chris Grayling said the government aimed to have its programme in place across the country by next summer.
He said it would provide “personalised help for everyone who finds themselves out of work regardless of the benefit they claim”.
Grayling claimed the new programme would give voluntary and private sector providers longer to work with clients and “greater freedom to decide the appropriate support for them”.
He also confirmed the pledge made by the Conservatives before the election that providers would be paid more to secure jobs for those who were “harder to help”, such as those disabled people who need more support to find work.
The coalition government’s plans will mean existing job programmes for disabled people – including Pathways to Work and New Deal for Disabled People – will be “phased out” or “folded into the Work Programme”.
Grayling said: “Once the Work Programme is implemented it will supersede much of the complicated raft of national programmes currently on offer and these will be phased out.
“The support currently provided by programmes such as the Flexible New Deal will be folded into the Work Programme as soon as possible.”
But Grayling also said the government was “committed to supporting severely disabled people” and was “currently reviewing the best way of doing this”.
Some welfare-to-work commentators have suggested this could mean that Work Choice, the new specialist disability employment programme that is due to replace Workstep from October, might not be scrapped.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said any comments about the future of Work Choice were “speculation” at this stage.
10 June 2010