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Modernisation of the Supported Employment Programme


Minister for Disabled People Margaret Hodge has announced a radical modernisation of the Government’s £161m Supported Employment Programme. Improved work opportunities will mean around 5,000 disabled people will be able to progress into mainstream work over the next 3 years.

The new opportunities for personal development and progression will be available to the 22,000 disabled people already working in the Supported Employment Programme. To reflect this modernisation the Supported Employment Programme will be known as WORKSTEP from April 2001.

Mrs Hodge said, “This Government wants to bring about comprehensive civil rights for disabled people. I believe disabled people should have the right to work alongside non-disabled people in mainstream jobs. WORKSTEP will have a vital role to play in this process.

“We want to increase the number of people with disabilities who go through WORKSTEP into a mainstream job. The programme will remain a crucial source of longer term support to those disabled people facing the greatest barriers to working.

“The new emphasis on encouraging people to progress will help employers to widen the range of people they employ and to include more disabled people in their workforce. WORKSTEP will be dynamic, supportive and enabling – helping individuals to achieve and sustain their potential in work. This is good news for disabled people and good news for business.”

Modernisation will benefit both existing participants and new entrants from April 2001, and will be supported by four key developments:

  • new eligibility criteria, to focus on better ways of identifying people who face more significant barriers to working and who require additional support in order to work;
  • challenging but achievable targets for progression to mainstream employment;
  • new outcome-related funding arrangements, with payments when supported employees progress to mainstream employments; and
  • the development and introduction of quality standards.

Sue Maynard-Campbell, Chair of the Advisory Committee for Disabled People in Employment and Training (ACDET), said, “We welcome the proposed changes and hope that they will result in greater benefits for disabled people.”

Malcolm Goldsby, Regional Director for the Shaw Trust, who support over 2,000 people in mainstream employment, said, “Shaw Trust is looking forward to working with all partners – disabled jobseekers, employers, trades unions and the Employment Service – to demonstrate the value that the modernised programme will have in providing support and high quality employment for disabled people. Shaw Trust will focus on targeting support where it is most required.”

Ray Fletcher, Personnel Director of Remploy Ltd, the largest employer of disabled people under the programme, said, “Remploy welcomes changes that are being made to the Supported Employment Programme and in particular the increased emphasis on support, development and progression for supported employees.”

Details of the modernisation are contained in the document Modernising Supported Employment, issued by the Employment Service last Friday. Copies (including alternative formats) are available from Jonathan Rowland, Employment Service: (phone 0114 259 5746), fax 0114 259 6990 or e-mail: [email protected]).

The document is also on the ES website:

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