HC Deb 25 November 1992 vol 214 cc706-8W
Mr. Illsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what steps she is taking to encourage employers to meet the disability quotas of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944;

(2) if she will list the criteria to be met by an employer before a permit to engage people not registered disabled can be issued; and in what circumstances such a permit can be renewed;

(3) how many permits to engage people not registered disabled are issued by her Department each year.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service Agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from M. Fogden to Mr. Eric Illsley, dated 25 November 1992: As the Employment Service is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to write to you direct to respond to your Parliamentary Question to her about the steps being taken to encourage employers to meet the disability quota of the Disabled Persons Employment Act 1944 and two Parliamentary Questions about permits. These are matters which fall within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency. We put a considerable amount of resource into persuading employers to recruit and retain suitable registered disabled people that is people who count towards the 3% quota under the Disabled Persons Employment Act. My Disability Advisory Service (DAS) and the Disablement Resettlement Officers (DROs) have been brought together to form Placing Assessment and Advisory and Advisory Teams (PACTS). These teams provide a professional integrated and trained network of help and advice for both employers and people with disabilities. There are seventy one Placing Assessment and Counselling Teams (PACTS) nationwide. An important part of their duties is to encourage employers to try to recruit registered disabled people thus helping employers towards meeting the 3% Quota. PACTs can offer employers practical assistance towards helping employers recruit registered disabled people through our Special Schemes. Two schemes give specific help to employers through:

  1. (i) grants of up to £6,000 to enable employers to adapt their premises or equipment to employ a person with a disability;

  1. (ii) a Job Introduction Scheme providing a grant towards a person's wage for a trial period of usually six weeks.
Other Special Schemes provide particular help for the individual through:
  1. (i) assistance with fares to work for people with disabilities who are unable to use public transport;
  2. (ii) special tools and equipment that a person needs to do their job;
  3. (iii) financial aid for certain visually handicapped people towards the cost of setting up a business.
We also produce the Code of Good Practice for employers which is available from the PACT. This is a reference document which gives guidance about recruiting and retaining people with disabilities. Our Disability Symbol was launched in September 1990. It helps employers who are committed to good practice in employing people with disabilities to communicate that fact to potential job applicants. The Symbol is being strengthened both by the addition of a strap line "Positive about Disabled People" and from the 1 June 1993 requiring employers who use the symbol to make five specific commitments to action. There is a press advertising campaign under way aimed at raising employers interest in employing people with disabilities. The campaign aims to encourage employers to adopt good policies and practices in the recruitment, training, career development and retention of people with disabilities and to generate more vacancies for people with disabilities. The campaign is backed up both by advice and information including a new booklet "Employing People with Disabilities". I enclose copies of both the Code of Good Practice and Employing People with Disabilities for your information. I now turn to your questions about the criteria for issuing a permit and the numbers of permits issued each year. There are two types of permit. The basic test applied for both is whether suitable registered disabled people are available. An individual or immediate permit authorises the engagement of one or more people who are not registered disabled, to fill actual vacancies when no suitable registered disabled people are available. Bulk permits give the employer authority in advance to engage a specified number of people who are not registered as disabled (usually based on the employer's estimate of their likely vacancies), in particular occupations for a specific period of time. Bulk permits are issued on the understanding that, the employer will notify vacancies to the Jobcentre and will sympathetically consider the engagement of any suitable registered disabled people who may become available. These conditions apply whether an employer is applying for a first or a subsequent permit.

We do not keep centralised records of the numbers of permits that are issued and I am unable to say how many permits are issued each year. However I hope it will be helpful if I give the total number of employers issued with permits during each of the last five years for which data is available. The figures relate to a twelve month period ending 1 June each year.

Employers issued with permits in twelve month period ending 1 June
1987 18,577
1988 18,594
1989 18,530
1990 18,038
1991 17,649

As decided by the Administration Committee of the House of Commons, Chief Executive Replies to written Parliamentary Questions will now be published in the Official Report. I will also place a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.

Mr. Illsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if she will list the local authorities to which permits to engage people not registered disabled have been issued this year;

(2) for how long permits to engage people not registered disabled have been issued to Barnsley metropolitan borough council.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

It has been the policy of successive Governments to treat as confidential, information about the issue of permits in accordance with the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 to individual employers, and not to disclose such information without their agreement.