St Helens South and Whiston MP Marie Rimmer has condemned the Government’s failure on support for disabled people seeking employment.
During Treasury Questions on Tuesday 29th November, Marie Rimmer MP grilled the Chancellor over planned cuts to the new Work and Health Programme, designed to support disabled people in returning to employment. The new Work and Health programme will receive £130m per year, 80% less than its predecessor scheme which received £730m in 2013/14.
Marie challenged the Minister saying: “With just one in six people with autism in employment, would it not have been better to invest in improving the Work and Health Programme, rather than cutting it, to assist people to gain employment and thereby save on benefits? They want to work.”
In response, Treasury Minister David Gauke MP claimed that over the last three years the number of disabled people in employment had risen. However, analysis from the TUC found that the government is years behind schedule on their manifesto commitments to halve the disability employment gap by 2020. The research forecast that by 2020 just 52% of disabled people will be in work – 11% less than the government promised. Figures released by the National Autistic Society highlight an even greater problem, just 16% of autistic people are currently in full time employment.
Speaking after the question, Marie said: “Despite the Government’s rhetoric, the fact remains that they are failing to meet their targets on the disability employment gap, particularly for those with autism.
“There are five million disabled people in this country living in poverty. Far too many disabled residents find themselves in low paid, part time, insecure employment that does nothing to help them get on.
“Instead of slashing the funding for the Work and Health Programme, the Government must invest in disabled people. Support should be there for all those who are able to return to work whilst ensuring a strong safety net is in place for those who cannot.”