HC Deb 06 March 2000 vol 345 cc753-4
6. Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley)

What steps his Department is taking to help reduce the barriers to work faced by disabled people. [111834]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. Hugh Bayley)

For those—[Interruption.]It is nice to see warfare break out on the Opposition Benches.

For those on incapacity benefits, we have introduced a 52-week linking rule as well as removing restrictions on voluntary work. We have also introduced the disabled persons tax credit and, next week, we will make regulations that will remove barriers that might prevent disabled people from taking part in work trials or work placements while on benefits.

Mr. Hoyle

I welcome the Minister's answer and the pilot schemes that have been introduced, but what plans has he got to ensure that there will be a national scheme so that all disabled people will benefit and will be able to have support when they apply for jobs?

Mr. Bayley

I welcome my hon. Friend's question. Under the previous Administration, people with long-term and intractable health problems or disabilities were simply shunted off unemployment benefit and the jobseeker's allowance and dumped on to incapacity benefits. With the pilot studies operating under the new deal for disabled people, we have shown that it is possible to get back to work many people who have spent a long time on incapacity benefits.

We also know that many people on incapacity benefits want to get back to work. Because of the success of the economy under this Government, many employers want to get hold of the skills that disabled people have to offer and want to employ them. We have created 700,000 jobs since the general election and we have the lowest rate of unemployment for 20 years and a million job vacancies. That is why employers want to employ disabled people. Therefore, we are actively considering what help could be provided on a national basis under the new deal.