I truly believe that we need a welfare system which supports vulnerable and disabled people and ensures they are able to play a full part in society. In the last two years, the number of disabled people in work has increased by 339,000, but I know the Government recognises that the gap between the employment rates of disabled people and non-disabled people remains too large. The Government is committed to halving this gap and changes to ESA are a crucial part of achieving this.
When the WRAG was created, the original estimates were that far more claimants would move into work than has turned out to be the case. People in the WRAG currently receive higher payments than Jobseeker’s Allowance but are not getting enough appropriate support to move into the workplace. This disparity in payments could discourage claimants from making the most of opportunities to help them move closer to work. This reform removes these disincentives while also providing additional practical support to these claimants.
The report calls for more support tailored towards people’s individual needs and conditions. The Government has committed £100 million of additional funding per year by 2020-21 specifically to help meet the needs of people with limited capability to work. It also calls for engagement with employers to increase awareness of disability issues. I am pleased to say that the Government’s Disability Confident campaign is about doing precisely that.
I recognise that some people may have additional costs as a result of their condition and that the purpose of the Personal Independence Payment is designed to help meet these costs. The Access to Work scheme is also available to help people overcome barriers to work. Thousands of people with learning disabilities are supported by Access to Work and the Government is expanding those services to make even more specialist support available.