HC Deb 02 November 1998 vol 318 c404W
Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will extend the eligibility criteria for access to work to include(a) councillors and (b) other elected officials. [57635]

Mr. Andrew Smith

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 Richard Foster to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 29 October 1998: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking him to extend the eligibility criterion for Access to Work to include Councillors and other elected officials. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Leigh Lewis as Chief Executive of the Employment Service. I am replying in Mr. Lewis' absence. Access to Work provides help for disabled people who are in, or, who about to enter, paid employment. It is designed to encourage employers to take on or retain disabled people by meeting some or all of the extra costs resulting from disability. The aim is to help disabled people in activities from which they earn their living. The activities of Councillors and other elected officials are not generally regarded as main paid employment. To extend Access to Work to these groups would lead to pressure for help from many other groups who are not in paid employment, but who regard their activities as being of equivalent status. The Access to Work budget is limited and extending coverage in this way would result in less help being available for people entering or in paid employment. I hope this is helpful.