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Government's back to work schemes 'failing' disabled people, warns charity

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The Government's controversial employment support programmes are "failing" to help disabled people find and keep jobs, a leading disability charity has warned.

Disability Rights UK, is calling for a "radical rethink" of Government programmes aimed at helping disabled people find paid work.

A survey of more than 500 disabled people found 63% said the support they received did not help them get a job.

The Government has two programmes aimed at helping people back to work - The Work Programme and Work Choice.

The study found a mismatch between the support provided and the help disabled job hunters wanted.

Overall, 60% of respondents said they would like individualised employment plans, but just 36% of those surveyed had one.

Head of Disability Rights UK Liz Sayce said: "The Work Programme is a 'non-work programme' and is heading for an 88% failure rate with people on out of work disability benefits.

"Some providers do very good work, but perverse incentives stop them spreading it. Disabled people want to play a more central role, working with employers, to secure job and career opportunities and use their talents, to the benefit of everyone."

Wasted money

The charity also claimed the programmes are failing Britain's employers, and not providing companies with the "widest possible pool of talent.

The study said the two programmes are providing extremely poor value to the taxpayer, with the Government continuing to "waste millions of pounds".

It said The Work Programme is expected to cost £3-5 billion over five years, yet is not working for a core group: people living with a disability or long-term health conditions.

A department for Work and Pensions spokesperson backed the current schemes and claimed it was previous schemes that didn't do enough for disabled people.

"Thousands of the hardest to help people have already found lasting work through the scheme.

"More generally we have protected the budget for disability employment services and recently kickstarted a two-year advertising campaign to support business to become more confident at recruiting disabled people as sometimes employer attitudes can be a barrier to work."

In its report the charity calls for:

Disabled people should be given more opportunity to gain experience and skills through work, rather than "endless work preparation".

Employers and disabled people should be given the budget for disability employment support, with specialist advice as necessary.

A focus on young, disabled individuals to help them gain the necessary skills and qualifications to find jobs.