Call for submissions – inquiry launched into employment support for disabled people


Disability Employment Gap 2015. Source: UK Parliament.

Inquiry background

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the Government’s commitment to halve the “disability employment gap.” According to the most recent data, 46.7% of disabled people were in work at the end of 2015 compared to 80.3% of non-disabled people. In order to close this gap, the Committee says an extra 1.2 million disabled people would need to be supported into work.

The Committee’s welfare to work report, published in October 2015, raised concerns about the lack of success of existing employment programmes in supporting disabled people into sustained employment.

The Government has since announced:

  • A new Work and Health Programme to replace the current generalist Work Programme and specialist disability Work Choice programmes
  • A real terms increase in spending on the Access to Work Programme, which provides practical support for disabled people, beyond the “reasonable adjustments” required to be made by employers
  • A White Paper to be published this year which will “set out reforms to improve support for people with health conditions and disabilities, including exploring the roles of employers, to further reduce the disability employment gap and promote integration across health and employment.”

Concerns raised over Disability Confident campaign

In addition, the DWP’s Disability Confident campaign, launched in 2013, aims to promote the benefits of employing disabled people to employers.

However, concerns have been raised about the abolition of the Work Related Activity component of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) worth £29.05 per week – and its equivalent in Universal Credit – for new claimants from April 2017, and the potential effects of this measure on disabled people’s ability to overcome their barriers to working.

Call for written submissions

The Committee invites written submissions addressing the following points:

Steps required to halve the disability employment gap:

  • To what extent are the current range of proposed measures likely to achieve the Government’s ambition of closing the disability employment gap?
  • Should the Government set interim targets along the way to meet the commitment to halve the disability employment gap? What should they be?

Support for employers:

  • How effective is the Disability Confident campaign in reducing barriers to employment and educating employers?
  • What more could be done to support employers?

Effective employment support for disabled people:

  • What should support for people with health conditions and disabilities in the proposed Work and Health programme look like?
  • How should providers be incentivised to succeed?

Likely effects of proposed ESA reform:

  • What are the likely impacts on disability employment of the abolition of the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity component?
  • What evidence is there that it will promote ‘positive behavioural change’? What evidence is there that it will have unintended consequences, and how could these be mitigated?

Aim of the inquiry

The Committee intends to consider possible improvements in:

  • the DWP’s employment support programmes for disabled people
  • Support for employers to take on disabled people
  • Disabled people’s access to the labour market more broadly

The Committee will also examine possible adverse consequences of the Government’s current approach, particularly around proposed changes to ESA, and how these might be addressed.

Chair’s comment

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee said:

“The Government has made a welcome commitment to help more people with disabilities into a position where they can find and then keep a job. If it can successfully be seen through, this commitment could signal a major stride towards achieving full employment in our country.

The really important part now is to back-up this commitment with a series of reforms that are tailored to each person’s own skills and ambitions, as well as those conditions that currently limit their ability to work, so that each person can follow a feasible journey into work. We hope the evidence we receive will enable us to help the Government in its search for such a reform package.”

Send a written submission through the disability employment gap inquiry page.

Further information

The deadline for written submissions is Monday 9 May 2016.




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19 thoughts on “Call for submissions – inquiry launched into employment support for disabled people

  1. If I recall correctly, the proposals outlined by this government during the Select Committee hearing spoke of merging ESA into Universal Credit. ESA would no longer exist in its present form. The policy agenda was based around the notion that if disabled people were merged into UC and have similar conditionality and claimant commitment as JSA claimants, given that the government now recognize that many JSA claimants also suffer from disabilities and Mental Health Issues in much the same way as those in the ESA group, this would lead to less discrimination from employers, having removed the Labelling of the Disabled by attaching them to a ESA.

    The policy outline is to remove both the Support Group as well as the Work Related Group.

    The select committee asked how this would work, with the Gov explaining that there would be tailored support for all those deemed to need extra help which would be employed by the Job Coaches already working with JSA Claimants. The committee asked what this extra support would comprise of and the answers wer vague, all they kept saying was that the Work Coaches and Advisers would take on that role, as they are ALL now expertly trained to deal with this group. There would be no dedicated Disability Advisors as all current DWP staff on the front line have been skilled up.
    There was also talk of applying sanctions etc, as they have proved so successful in Supporting and Motivating behavioural change in the current JSA cohort etc.

    I recall being shocked at the lack of cross examination by the committee.
    I was more shocked at the apparent applause the Chair gave to Pritti Patel praising the government for its commitment to improve the lot of the Disabled or words to that effect.

    I cannot help but feel skeptical about this enquiry. The committee appeared to want to support the government in its aims and did not flince in the slightest at the suggestion of less money, and no tailored support etc. The notion of sactions did not appear to create any stir.

    I cannot help but wonder if this will turn out to be a propaganda exercise, in seeing to be doing the right thing.
    With disabled people giving the commitee and hence the government all the info about how we feel about it all and then for them to contrive a document which states it has listened and responded, quoting our concerns, only to use them against us by twisting and conflaiting their findings in order to support their policy changes.


  2. The committee did ask what work the government would be doing with employers and I recall the answer being that all the work would be done between the claimant and the DWP Job Coaches. That came after the government had spouted on about all working together etc!! There is to be no envolvment between the disabled and employers.

    But you can bet your bottom dollar, the DWP will be involving Psychologists and possible GP surgeries in is SUPPORTIVE Agenda.


    1. Yes, cognitive behaviour therapy and merging health and work related services, including enlisting GPs to prescribe work coaching is part of the plan. The government intend to make work a “health outcome,” all of which are plans that must be challenged, not just by us, but by professional bodies like the BPS and BACP, the BMA, individual GPs, therapists, psychologists and other health professionals.


      1. Sadly to date, although individual psychotherapists and psychologists have spoken out about the ethics of such policies, the governing bodies such as the BPS and BACP have remained silent on these matters.

        Many of the members of these bodies are signing up for private work via IAPT, etc… So they will effectively be receiving their pay checks from the DWP, Conflict of interest? Destruction of TRUST?

        The new trend in Psychotherapy appears to be around Relational Psychotherapy/Psychology, which on the surface appears to make some sense, however, my experience of it it that it is disempowering individuality in preference to Group think. ie. the group is more important, people are being conditioned to conform and comply to the group dynamic and the rules applying to the group etc. Compliance, Resilience and Tolerance are the traits they are reinforcing.


      2. BACP did respond, after being prompted by an article I wrote in late February –

        This was the response, after it was posted on their discussion site, and therapists demanded a response, posting it on their twitter site as well as the BACP website and so on –

        BPS are currently formulating another response – Dr Stephen Weatherhead is collating and organising this – and I’ve submitted work to that, along with many others, including groups like Psychologists Against Austerity, Boycott Workfare, Mental Health Resistance NetworkI think DPAC and other disability campaign groups have sent around a letter to other organisations, too.

        I’m not a member of BACP, but I am a member of BPS.

        It’s not as critical an approach as we would like, yet, but it’s certainly a good start.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The extra support they spoke of would partly be by increasing PIP payments to those most in need. And as we all know, the current PIP assessments are near impossible to score points on if you suffer from a Mental Health condition.

    State Therapy, or lets be real Brain Washing Techniques will be the only support the majority will receive, and the prescriptions will be of the forced variety, lest receive a sanction for not being a happy clappy posivive compliant sheep.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Work and Pensions Committee does not make clear whether its inquiry will address the health impacts of the ESA (WRAG) cuts—it only refers to “unintended consequences” or “adverse consequences”. The cuts (a £30 per week loss of benefit, starting in April 2017) render this benefit below subsistence levels and will leave claimants struggling to sufficiently eat and heat their homes.

    Being disabled is increasingly a trigger for poverty and hunger, and the 2017 ESA (WRAG) benefit won’t be sufficient enough to cover basic necessities, forcing vulnerable people to increasingly rely on food banks for their survival.

    I will write Frank Field, MP, Chair of the Committee, seeking clarification and expressing my concerns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Samuel, I will also be making a submission. The language of the enquiry does seem to prop up the framework that the government is intent on imposing, you’re right. Though the questions asked are critical.

      Just some thoughts from a recent piece of work on disability and poverty. It’s not being disabled as such that is the trigger for poverty, it is government policies that discriminate against disabled people that trigger poverty. I don’t accept that being ill and disabled causes poverty, and I don’t support the view that only participation in a mainstream, unaccommodating, unadapted neoliberal labour market is the answer to preventing poverty for many disabled people. Many can’t. Being ill, disabled and poor isn’t something that is ameliorated by a government imposing “behaviour change” programmes on us – increasingly revealed as another euphemism for punitive cuts. We need more money, adaptations, reasonable adjustments in the workplace and in society at large. We need a government that observes Equality law and Human Rights obligations.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I recently signed up for a course with FutureLearn, a gov portal for adult educational courses.
    The course was on Character Education.

    I didnt complete it as it enraged me to the point where I was having to hold back my anger etc…. and wanting to be able to delve into other courses they are running, as a form or research I held back.

    What I do recall about the course was its completely misleading use of statistics and research findings. Everything was anecdotal and conflated from their own dubious questionnaires.

    One part of the course spoke of how people value character traits, and they then went on to list those character traits people most valued. Top of the list was Gratitude, followed by Resilience.

    They then went on to a questionnaire where those on the course had to state the order in which they believed people would place a group of character traits. The thing was, if what you put say as no 1 was not the answer they wanted, you had to keep trying until you came up with the answer they wanted. It appeared very contrived.

    As if they were brainwashing people on the course to believe that the list they said was accurate, was based of truth, when it was no such the case.

    I was appalled.

    What make me crack up, was that even though I didn’t finish the course, I received an email from them saying that if I completed the course, I would then become eligible to apply to enroll to do a Masters Degree in Character Education!!!

    (on their site previously I had listed my qualifications, and having received a 2:1 BA, this must have alerted me to them as a potential Student for their MA course. What a load of B

    FutureLearn have just informed me that a new course is soon to be up and running:
    Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture.

    This should be an eye opener,
    anyone can join up, and its free?!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Next course to run from June 13, and guess what? I’ve enrolled, and will give a full critical appraisal once I have participated. I did note that Peter Kinderman (and BPS’s Prof Jamie Hacker Hughes) has met with the Nudge Team. He says: “In addition to receiving a briefing on the current work of the BIT, a useful discussion was had about building on the work we have been carrying out this year raising the Society’s profile to national and devolved government to increase the impact of the Society and psychology on policy.” –

      Now that’s a link that needs to be explored in full. Nudge is NOT social psychology: it’s behavioural ECONOMICS, and this little old boy’s network, with Conservatives and psychologists clamouring for raising their status and income on the back of deploying cheap and political techniques of persuasion needs to be exposed and challenged

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great to hear you have enrolled Kitty….
        Will be interesting to compare and contrast our experiences and CRITIQUE of this new Innovative Learning Experience.

        We may even be offered the opportunity to become MA scholars in Nudge Psychology.

        Judging by my previous experiences of these propaganda exercises, one thing is for sure, the experience will no doubt have the aura of an expensive glossy promotional ad, which will include top notch promotional videos along with the actors and high end cinematography, promoting government agenda and ideology.
        My experience suggested SHED LOADS OF MONEY IS SPENT ON THESE PROGRAMS, in order to persuade they are professional and authentic etc.

        There are a number of courses similar to this one, no doubt as you have enrolled, they will email you promoting the new courses, all aimed at social attitude and belief systems change.


      1. Sadly and somewhat disturbingly, the info in the link above does not surprise me.
        BPS is born out of the Tavistock Institute, which has seats in just about every governmental department, writing and advising policy. Tavistock has its tentacles in just about every research program in universities, think tanks and large corporations in the western world, with its subsidiaries now moving into countries such as Saudi Arabia etc…..
        Far from the Tavistock Instute of Human Relations being a Charity, It gained its charity status by an emormous handover of cash from the Rockerfella Foundation, leaving it in a very healthy financial situation, no longer having to rely on charitable donations to exist.

        Tavistock did split off into two separate organizations, I believe in order to legitimize itself to the domestic side of the operation, however it appears to me that all the research that is done on on particular groups is then fed into the political side in order to refine their psyopps techniques.

        Tavistock train psychologists, psychotherapists and corporate entities in leadership programs etc, who then go out into the world to spread the evangelical message. Group psychology and Relational Psychotherapy, etc….


  6. Being more of a realist than the government officials who no doubt thought they have done a good job by cutting the aid given to the disabled and incapacitated to incentivise them to work, there is a large number of unemployed able bodied people in the nation, larger than the skewed figures given by the government who consider those who have been sanctioned are working, and given that employers generally speaking want to make a profit, given a choice of an able bodied person or a disabled one who could be taking more time off or need assistance to do the job which one is more likely to get the job? I am myself suffering because of the warped ideas of this government because I can not work, although the unqualified ATOS assessors claim on the basis of the idiot sheet that I can, which means that i no longer get any benefit because I can not sign on for job seekers allowance because as I can’t work that would be illegal, but can’t get help because of the highly negatively biased assessments, I can’t claim the support grope ESA. This is clearly a part of the disabled cleansing program being implemented by the government that started with the so called care in the community programmes first for learning difficulties then mental health, and now the cutting of general care beds via the closure of a/e departments and the associated departments to aid them to work.


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