Minister for Disabled People, Margaret Hodge, and Social Security Minister, Hugh Bayley, announced on Monday that a national network of Job Brokers is being set up to offer people on Incapacity Benefits the support, guidance, and preparation they need to find paid work and move off benefit dependence.
This New Deal will be delivered largely by the voluntary and private sectors and will match employers to potential employees currently on Incapacity Benefits. A prospectus outlining what Job Brokers are hoping to achieve is being launched.
Mrs Hodge said:
"Disabled people are seven times as likely as non-disabled people to be out of work and claiming benefits. People in receipt of Incapacity Benefits are the largest group of economically inactive people in Britain – one million would like to work and 400,000 could work now given the right support.
"We're taking action to help disabled people achieve that aim. Through the extension of the New Deal for Disabled People, a network of Job Brokers will offer people on Incapacity Benefits the guidance and support they need to find paid work. It will also offer help and advice to employers in meeting the needs of disabled employees."
"We've piloted a range of approaches across the country to find out what works best. We've worked with both the private and voluntary sectors to create new opportunities for disabled people, such as:
- The Eastern Valleys pilot in Wales has helped over 750 long-term sick and disabled people back to work. This included a man who had been on Incapacity Benefit for five years after a spinal injury , the pilot helped him to gain a PSV driver licence and get a job with his local bus company.
- Centrica, a private sector gas company, took on around fifty disabled people in their call centre as part of an innovative pilot scheme.
- Pilot schemes in Bristol and Bath have helped disabled people start up their own businesses – these range from toy production to kitchen fitting and art dealership.
"Job Brokers will build on that experience by helping to match employers to potential employees. It's going to have a dramatic impact on the lives of thousands of disabled people."
Hugh Bayley said:
"The support of employers is critical to the success of this New Deal. We have well-motivated disabled people who want to work and well-motivated employers who want to hire them; now we want job brokers to bring them together. The Prospectus we have launched today is inviting private, voluntary and public sector organisations to consider bidding to become job brokers and help us match the abilities and potential of disabled people to employers.
"Job Brokers will work closely with employers to help disabled people prepare to move into, or back into work. Job Brokers will need to understand the local labour market and be aware of the needs of disabled people. They will match jobs available with the skills needed to fill them, and help develop skills for those who do not already have them. Job Brokers will work with people with a disability or long term illness entitled to incapacity benefits ."
The prospectus paves the way for an invitation to tender for organisations that are interested in delivering the extension of the New Deal for Disabled People. The Invitation to Tender document will be available on 27 November 2000.