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Disability employment gap: Work and Pensions Committee publishes Government response to report

22 November 2021

The Work and Pensions Committee publishes the Government response to its report on the disability employment gap.

The Committee’s report, published in July, urged DWP to make a renewed effort to break down unacceptable barriers disabled people face in the labour market. It called on the Government to re-adopt its previous target of halving the disability employment gap and adopt a new target of getting an additional 1.2 million disabled people into work by 2027.

It also concluded that DWP’s national programme for supporting disabled people to find and stay in work was not working and instead should be delivered at a local level, with the report also critical of the department’s efforts to engage with disabled people.

The Government’s response fails to commit to halving the disability employment gap and rejects the adoption of a new target, instead saying it will ‘seek to achieve the current goal, to see a million more disabled people in work in the decade to 2027’ before setting a new goal.

A recommendation that more funding and powers be devolved to groups of local authorities to set up their own versions of the Work and Health Programme is also rejected. The response states DWP is assessing the effectiveness of the programme before making any decisions.

Chair's comment

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“Every day disabled people, both in work and looking for jobs, come up against barriers in the labour market that nobody who is simply trying to earn a living should have to face. The Government’s unambitious response to our report fails to instil any confidence that it is serious about breaking these down any time soon.

The failure by Ministers to commit to a more stretching target to reduce the disability employment gap is symptomatic of the Government’s lacklustre approach. A reliance on goals rather than firm targets leaves the option open of moving the goal posts when it comes to efforts to increase the number of disabled people in work.

The DWP also talks of assessing the effectiveness of the Work and Health Programme, when it is patently already clear that it is not working for many disabled people. The Government must acknowledge the ineffectiveness of this over-centralised model and move towards enabling groups of local authorities to deliver more personalised and flexible support locally."

Further information

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