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Government consults on improving benefits and employment support

The Government is consulting on how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions, so people can live independently, and stay in or move into work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation, “Shaping Future Support: Health and Disability Green Paper”, aims to reduce the employment disability gap, improve assessments for benefits and employment support, and make the process fairer for claiming them. We welcome these aspirations and will respond with recommendations to the consultation.

Need for improved assessments and decision-making

We think all decision-making for benefits and support needs to respect and listen to individuals, giving proper weight to their own evidence. Assessments should also make the best use of pre-existing evidence from experts like healthcare professionals.

Better training for work and health professionals in jobcentres

We would welcome Government action that provides specialist support for disabled job seekers, and those with health conditions. This will require better training for those assessing and assisting blind and partially sighted job seekers.

The role of employers

Employers need to ensure their practices and workplace environments don’t create barriers for blind and partially sighted people, and support employees who develop sight loss. They should be actively encouraged to report this as Disability Confident employers.

Close the disability employment gap

It’s also vital the Government collects more detailed data that not only shows the overall disability employment gap, but a breakdown within that figure, to ensure no-one is being left behind. We know that only one in four blind or partially sighted people is in work; our most recent survey showed the disability employment gap for blind and partially sighted people is around double that for other disabled people. This gap is widening but needs to be closed.

Next steps

We’ll explain our position on some of the key options presented in the Health and Disability Green Paper soon and be reporting these back to the Government. In the meantime, you can find out more about the consultation and how to send your own response, at GOV.UK.