MP says disabled jobseekers not helped

Marie Rimmer MP
Marie Rimmer MP

A St Helens MP has strongly criticised the Government for failing to support disabled jobseekers.

St Helens South and Whiston MP Marie Rimmer questioned ministers in the House of Commons over planned cuts to the new Work and Health Programme which is designed to help disabled people return to the workplace.

Despite the Government’s rhetoric they are failing to meet their targets on the disability employment gap, particularly for those with autism

Marie Rimmer MP

The programme will receive £130m per year compared to a previous scheme which had £730m funding in 2013-14.

Ms Rimmer asked treasury minister David Gauke why the programme was not receiving investment and afterwards described the Government’s response as insufficient.

She said: “Despite the Government’s rhetoric, the fact remains that they are failing to meet their targets on the disability employment gap, particularly for those with autism.

“There are five million disabled people in this country living in poverty. Far too many disabled residents find themselves in low-paid, part-time, insecure employment that does nothing to help them get on.

“Instead of slashing the funding for the Work and Health Programme, the Government must invest in disabled people. Support should be there for all those who are able to return to work whilst ensuring a strong safety net is in place for those who cannot.”

Ms Rimmer told the House of Commons that just one in six people with autism has a job and said the Work and Health Programme neded investment because many disabled residents wanted to work rather than be on benefits.

In response Mr Gauke claimed that over the last three years more disabled people had entered the workplace during Treasury Questions on Tuesday November 29.

However, analysis from the TUC suggested the Government is years behind schedule on its commitment to halve the disability employment gap, with just 52 per cent forecast to have a job by 2020, a shortfall of 11 per cent on manifesto promises.

The National Autistic Society also released figures showing just 16 per cent of people with the condition are currently in full-time employment.