HC Deb 14 November 2000 vol 356 cc596-7W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he is taking to inform small and medium sized enterprises about the Access to Work scheme. [135841]

Ms Hodge

[holding answer 31 October 2000]: 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 Mark Neale to Mr. Tim Boswell, dated 14 November 2000: As the Employment Service is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has asked Leigh Lewis to reply to your question concerning the steps being taken to inform small and medium sized enterprises of the Access to Work scheme. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Mr Lewis as Chief Executive of the Agency. I am replying on his behalf. In answer to your specific question, it is encouraging to know that half of the employees who apply for support from the Access to Work scheme work for organisations which employ fewer than 500 people. The Employment Service already invests around £300,000 per year in marketing and publicising its disability services and programmes, through a variety of media including external advertising, exhibitions and marketing events, video and information leaflets, which are available through all Jobcentres. This includes leaflets specifically aimed at employers. Our own promotion is reinforced by a wide range of other organisations, particularly in the voluntary sector, who represent disabled people. We collaborate with them to help publicise Access to Work and our other support for disabled people and employers seeking to employ people with disabilities. I am also pleased to be able to tell you that the Employment Service is relaunching its website this autumn. This relaunch will include fuller information about disability services, including much more information about Access to Work for employers and individuals. Our promotion of the Access to Work scheme is reflected in growing demand for it. In round figures, 13,000 disabled people were supported in 97–98, 16,000 in 98–99, and 21,000 in 99–2000. I hope this is helpful.