§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the measures taken by Her Majesty's Government since 1979 to assist in the employment of disabled people.
The Government have an impressive record over recent years on measures which assist people with disabilities to find and keep employment and to develop within it. My Department has lead responsibility within government for this matter and in 1989–90 the Department spent around £400 million on helping 225,000 people with disabilities through its general and special programmes and services.
Initiatives aimed at improving the prospects for people with disabilities, including their employment prospects, are promoted by Government Departments in co-operation with a range of agencies and organisations. Measures taken since 1979 by my Department and other Government Departments are listed in the table. Other measures introduced before 1979 have also been continuing since then. People with disabilities can also participate alongside non-disabled people wherever possible in much mainstream provision as is not mentioned here.
- 1979: The Fit for Work Award Scheme was introduced by the Department of Employment Group.
- 1981: The Department of Employment Group replaced Disablement Advisory Committees by Committees for the Employment of Disabled People.
- 1981: A review of the Department of Employment Group's Employment Rehabilitation Service was undertaken.
- 1982: Report by the Department of Employment Group on its Review of Assistance to Disabled People.
- 1982: The Department of Social Security's Mobility Allowance, for people who are unable to walk or virtually unable to walk due to physical disablement, was made tax free.
- 1982: The Department of Trade and Industry introduced support for Information Technology projects for people with disabilities.
- 1983: The Department of Employment Group guaranteed a one year training place under the Youth Training Scheme to all those leaving school without a job to go to regardless of race, sex, religion, or disability up to the age of 18 years.
- 1983: The Department of Employment Group introduced the Disablement Advisory Service which helps advise employers on how to integrate people with disabilities into their workforce and promote good employment and development policies.
- 1983: The Department of Employment Group's Individual Training Throughout with an Employer scheme was introduced under which people with disabilities were placed with an employer and given training in a skill or semi-skill on an individual basis.
- 1983: The Department of Employment Group introduced its Release For Training scheme which provided support for people with disabilities already in employment who were experiencing difficulties which required a period of essential training.
- 1983: The Department of Employment Group introduced the Professional Training Scheme which provided assistance, to a maximum of three years, for people with disabilities who had been refused an LEA grant, to help meet the costs of courses of higher level study, including university courses.
- 1984: The Department of Employment Group launched the Code of Good Practice on the Employment of Disabled People.
- 1984: The Department of Employment Group published a report on Proposals for the Development of the Employment Rehabilitation Service.
- 1984: The Department of Employment Group's Asset Centres were set up to provide assessment and rehabilitation services in areas not well served by Employment Rehabilitation Centres.
- 1984: Introduction in Scotland under the Building Standards (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1984 of Part T `Facilities for Disabled Persons' which ensures that account is taken of the needs of people with disabilities in the construction of most new buildings and during alterations and extensions of certain existing buildings.
- 1985: The Department of Employment Group introduced the Sheltered Placement Scheme to enable individuals with severe disabilities to work in open employment alongside non-disabled workers.
- 1985: The Department of Employment Group introduced the Wider Opportunities Training Programme aimed to help unemployed people, including people with disabilities, to improve their competitiveness for employment or further vocational training.
- 1985: The Department of Employment Group introduced the Job Training Scheme which provided vocational training to those who were unemployed to help them compete in the labour market and had relaxed eligibility rules for people with disabilities.
- 1985: The Department of Employment Group set up the Residential Training Unit to provide funds centrally for Residential Training. Four residential training colleges and a number of private training colleges are supported to provide training in a wide range of courses and catering for a variety of disabilities, most offering qualifications.
- 1985: The Department of Employment Group introduced the Other Training Arrangements scheme which provided additional funding to purchase training for people with disabilities where mainstream training precluded certain skill areas or specialist provision was needed.
- 1985: The Building (Fourth Amendment) Regulations 1985 require new offices, shops, single storey independent educational buildings and other single story buildings in England and Wales to which the public is to be admitted to be constructed with suitable means of access for people with disabilities.
- 1985: The Companies Act introduced a requirement for Directors' Reports for companies with over 250 employees to state company policy on the recruitment, retention and development of staff with disabilities.
- 1985: The Office for the Minister for the Civil service issued a Code of Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities in the Civil Service which aimed to help departments and agencies to achieve equality of opportunity for people with disabilities and to make full use of the skills and abilities they possess.
- 1986: The Department of Trade and Industry launched the 'Concerned Technology' scheme which supported Information Technology projects such as information provision (e.g. through computer databases) for people with disabilities and the purchase of home work units for people with disabilities.
- 1986: The Department of Employment Group introduced two year Youth Training Scheme providing vocational training leading to specific qualifications. Premium grants were available for a number of high quality training places for young people with special needs, with additional funding for young people with disabilities with particular training needs. Other special arrangements for people with disabilities included extension of the YTS guarantee up to the age of 21 years for people with disabilities who needed to stay in full time education, relaxed eligibility criterial and residential training where appropriate.
- 1986: The Health and Safety Commission's action programme on occupational health encouraged employers to have access to occupational health advice. This assists job retention and job adaptation when people in work become disabled.
- 1987: The Building (Disabled People) Regulations 1987 came into force applying access regulations for people with disabilities to three additional categories of multi-storey premises: namely, factories, independent educational establishments and premises to which the public is admitted.
- 1987: Under the Department of Employment Group's New Job Training Scheme four special schemes were introduced to help people with disabilities gain maximum benefit from training. These were:
- Special Aids to Employment;
- Adaptations to Premises and Equipment;
- Personal Reader Service for the Blind; and
- Communication Service for the Deaf.
- 1987: The Department of Employment Group published its Asset Evaluation Report which identified the strength and weakness of Assets and Employment Rehabilitation Centres.
- 1987: The Department of Employment Group published its report on the Development of the Employment Rehabilitation Service.
- 1988: The Department of Health made available sophisticat-ed "Environmental Control" equipment designed to be used in employment or education with the users' own computer.
- 1988: The Department of Employment Group evaluated its Sheltered Placement Scheme.
- 1988: Employment Training was introduced by the Department of Employment Group to help unemployed people gain the skills and experience needed to compete for jobs locally. Aspects of Employment Training which particularly assist people with disabilities, include relaxed eligibility criteria; individual training plans; in depth assessment; part-time training; residential training; and special help and provision where necessary.
- 1988: The Department of Employment Group's Special Training Provision was introduced as part of Employment Training to pay for the more specialised assessment and training needs of people with disabilities and could also be used for training lasting up to a maximum of two years where extra time was necessary.
- 1989: Local housing authorities given wide discretion under the Local Government Housing Act 1989 to approve disabled facilities grants for works to make a dwelling or building suitable for the accommodation, welfare or employment of a disabled occupant.
- 1989: The Department of Transport's "Transport and Disability—A Statement of Aims and Priorities" was issued setting out the improvements to public and private transport which have opened up new opportunities for people with disabilities and identifies the aims for the future.
- 1989: The Department of Employment Group published Building on Ability, a guide for training people with disabilities.
- 1990: The Department of Employment Group introduced Youth Training with new fiexibilities for young people with disabilities.
- 1990: The Office for the Minister for the Civil Service updated its Code of Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities in the Civil Service.
- 1990: The Department of Employment Group published a consultative document "Employment and Training for People with Disabilities" aimed at ensuring the Department's services meet the needs of people with disabilities in the 1990s.
- 1990: The Department of Employment Group published an evaluation of their special schemes for people with disabilities and consulted on the need for change.
- 1990: "Employment and Handicap" was published, reporting on research funded by the Department of Employment Group which was undertaken by the Social and Community Planning Research to estimate the size of the population of people with disabilities who might be eligible for or need help from Department of Employment Group services.
- 1990: The Department of Employment Group published a research paper on the policies and practices of employers entitled "The Employment of People with Disabilities".
- 1990: The Department of Social Security published "The Way Ahead" announcing its proposals for a new benefit (Disability Working Allowance) to provide better help and opportunities for people with disabilities wishing to work.
- 1990: The Department of Employment Group introduced a new symbol for employers to adopt to show their commitment to good policies for the employment of people with disabilities.
- 1990: The publication of the Disability Living Allowance and the Disability Working Allowance Bill.
- 1990: The Department of Employment Group announced its aim to make an offer of a place to unemployed people with disabilities on one of its four main employment and training programmes—Employment Training, the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, the Job Interview Guarantee and Jobclubs.
- 1991: The Scottish Office Education Department commis-sioned research into the post-school placement of children and young persons with Record of Needs, including how different educational placements influence a young person's later changes of employment.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will consider introducing a communicator service for employees who are deaf or hard of hearing, following his Department's evaluation of special schemes for people with disabilities.
[holding answer 8 March 1991]: The consultation period for the evaluation paper ended on 1 February 1991. My Department is currently analysing the responses received. We will consider carefully all suggestions made for changes to the schemes, including the suggestion that a communicator service should be introduced for employees who are deaf or hard of hearing.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what local monitoring arrangements he has in place to ensure that training and enterprise councils are aware of, and provide for, the special training needs of people with disabilities.
[holding answer 8 March 1991]: Each training and enterprise council is required to set out in its corporate and business plans how it intends to meet the needs of people with disabilities. These plans are subject to approval by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State.
Specific contractual requirements common to all TECs include providing appropriate training to people with special training needs, including those with a disability. My Department has produced guidance on how to plan for and deliver training to meet those needs.
TECs' performance against their plans will be regularly monitored by my Department. In addition, the Training Standards Advisory Service will be appraising the quality of training offered by TECs including provision for people with disabilities.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received about the closure of employment rehabilitation centres for disabled people; and if he will make a statement.
[holding answer 8 March 1991]: My right hon. and learned Friend has received very few representations about the possible closure of individual employment rehabilitation centres.
The Government's intentions for assessment and rehabilitation services were set out in the consultative document "Employment and Training for People with Disabilities" published in June 1990. These involve improving geographical coverage and our capacity to respond flexibly to the needs of people with disabilities through establishing local employment service assessment 380W teams and increasing the extent to which, particularly in rehabilitation, services are purchased from voluntary and other appropriate organisations.
Comments were invited on how the plans for developing rehabilitation might most effectively be implemented. Analysis of comments received on the consultative document is not yet complete.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what consideration he has given to the recommendation of the Employment Select Committee's first report on disability and employment for full Government commitment to improving the 3 per cent. quota system; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.
[holding answer 8 March 1991]: My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has written to the Chairman of the Committee to express his pleasure at the participation of the Committee in the consultative process, to say that the Committee's report will be given full consideration along with all other responses received and to commit himself to keeping the Committee informed on progress on all the issues that it raised.
In the consultative document we made no firm proposals about the quota scheme, but invited comments on its merits and demerits. We are still considering the responses, including that of the Employment Committee.
§ Mr. Wigley
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of the responses to the recent consultative document "Employment and Training for People with Disabilities" supported the introduction of legislation to outlaw unjustifiable discrimination on the grounds of disability; and if he will make a statement.
The consultative document invited comments on the merits and demerits of various legislative approaches to securing good practice in the employment of people with disabilities. A number of respondents have expressed support for legislation which they describe in a variety of ways, some more precisely than others. It is not possible to state the percentage which support outlawing unjustifiable discrimination on the grounds of disability without the risk of oversimplifying or misinterpreting views and giving misleading information. We are still considering the comments we have received.
§ Mr. Ashley
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if, following his consultation on the employment and training of disabled people, he will consider introducing a legislative framework on the employment of disabled people.
In the consultative document "Employment and Training for People with Disabilities" we sought comments on the merits and demerits of the existing legislative framework on the employment of disabled people and possible legislative alternatives. We are still considering the responses we have received.