§ Mr. Alan Howarth
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what research her Department has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the employment needs of people who have previously claimed incapacity benefit; 
(2) what assessment she has made of the similarities and differences between the employment needs of people registering as unemployed who were formerly incapacity benefit claimants who (a) first claimed incapacity benefit after April 1995 and (b) formerly were on invalidity benefit before 1995. 
§ Mr. Forth
Responsibility for the subject of the questions 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. E. G. Fogden to Mr. Alan Howarth, dated 12 November 1996:The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the research and evaluation which has been commissioned into the employment needs of people who have previously claimed Incapacity Benefit (IB). You also asked what assessment has been made of the similarities and differences between the employment needs of people registering as unemployed who were formally IB claimants, who first claimed IB after April 1995 and those who were on Invalidity Benefit before 1995. I will answer both questions in this one reply. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.The needs of people who have previously claimed a sickness benefit have been examined by Employment Service (ES) Occupational Psychology Division. This work compared the needs of those people who had been disallowed IB (which we refer to as ex-IB) at the time they make a claim to unemployment benefit with those of other jobseekers at the same point. It was hoped that through this work it would be possible to identify whether ex-IB jobseekers had different employment needs so that the package of help that the ES offers these people could be reviewed to ensure that it is correctly focused. This package of help includes, a full advisory interview when they first make their claim, early access to ES programmes such as Jobplan and Jobclub and, if appropriate, help from our specialist disabilities services.The work by our Psychologists showed that this was a diverse group with a wide range of employment and jobseeking needs. It did not specifically compare those who had been on Invalidity Benefit (IVB) with those who made a claim to IB after April 1995, but looked across the board, finding that other personal factors influenced need rather than purely the time that they had been claiming a sickness benefit and the nature of that benefit.The psychologists found that the full advisory interview was valuable and that ES programmes could meet the needs of many of these people. The work has led ES to consider the possibility of a specially tailored programme for people who have previously claimed a sickness benefit, should the future volumes of such clients warrant it. The work of the psychologists has also enabled us to provide additional guidance for our advisers dealing with people who have claimed Incapacity Benefit.I hope this is helpful.