On 16 November 2023, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced a package of employment support measures as part of what the government call their Back to Work Plan.
Disability Rights UK is one of a number of disability organisations that have reaised concerns about the plan. They say “DR UK’s view is that the barriers to more Disabled people getting employment do not lie with Disabled people ourselves but with society – including inaccessible transport, poor employer attitudes, inadequate flexible working and Access to Work Support and failure to make reasonable adjustments.”
You can read more, including their formal response to the plan on their website.
Here’s what the government’s own “Touchbase” newsletter has to say about the plan:
This £2.5bn investment will help up to 1.1 million people with long-term health conditions, disabilities or who are long-term unemployed to look for and stay in work. The Back to Work Plan includes exploring reforms of the fit note system, expansion of available treatment and employment support, and measures that strengthen the sanctions process as part of the next generation of welfare reforms.
For disabled people and people with health conditions:
- Fit note reform. We will work with healthcare professionals and other stakeholders to develop, design and test how best to reform the fit note process. We will begin small-scale testing of reforming the fit note process in 2024, which will inform further rollout to a small number of local health systems (trailblazer sites) to improve the assessment of fitness for work, provide easy and rapid access to specialised work and health support, and enable more people to resume work after a period of illness. Government will formally consult on proposals for this new approach in 2024.
- Universal Support in England and Wales – matching up to 100,000 people per year with existing vacancies and supporting them in their new role, an increase on the 50,000 people outlined at Spring Budget, also helping people with disabilities and from vulnerable groups. Participants will access up to 12 months of personalised ‘place and train’ support. The individual will be supported by a dedicated keyworker who will help the participant find and keep a job, with up to £4,000 of funding available to provide each participant with training, help to manage health conditions or help for employers to make necessary accommodations to the person’s needs.
- WorkWell – a new WorkWell service delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Health and Social Care, which will support almost 60,000 long-term sick or disabled people to start, stay and succeed in work. Following its announcement at the Spring Budget, the departments have written to Integrated Care Systems setting out more details about the programme. A prospectus launched in the coming weeks will provide information for all Integrated Care Systems across England to develop their localised work and health strategies. The service will then be delivered in up to 15 pilot areas.