§ Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether any new initiatives will be taken to promote the employment of disabled people; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Jim Lester
I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission (MSC), which administers the employment and training services for disabled people, that a major promotional campaign will be mounted in the autumn with the slogan "Fit for Work". The campaign which has the support of the national advisory council on the employment of disabled people, the CBI and TUC, will commence on 17 September 1979, and will have three main elements:
- (1) a British Rail exhibition train which will visit 12 major centres around Great Britain. The train will stay for two days in each centre, during which time presentations of the theme of the campaign will be given to groups of employers, opinion formers and trade unionists. At the same time and afterwards a series of local presentations will take place in those areas not visited by the exhibition train;
- (2) a scheme of annual awards to firms for exemplary policies and practices in the employment of disabled people, which will sustain interest in successive years following the train exhibition;
- (3) the issue of a "mail pack" to some 75,000 employers which will include:
- (a) a brochure about the annual awards scheme—enclosing an application form—; and
- (b) a booklet designed to persuade firms to adopt constructive policies in the employment of disabled people, giving guidance on how to do so, and explaining how MSC can help.
The MSC's "Fit for Work" campaign, which has the strong support of the Government, will aim to promote a wider understanding of the employment needs of disabled workers and of their abilities, and, in doing so, help create more and better job opportunities for them. The main message will be that disabled workers are good workers given the chance, and, in the right job and with proper rehabiliatation, training and other facilities where appropriate, can compete on equal terms with people who are not disabled.