Mencap concerned over 'punitive measures' in today's Welfare Reform white paper
Thursday 11 November 2010
David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy said:
"Mencap welcomes the focus on ‘making work pay' and the move to improve and simplify the welfare system by removing disincentives to take up employment.
"However ‘making work pay' is only one aspect that needs addressing in order to help and support people with a learning disability to progress into employment. We know that 65 per cent of people with a learning disability want to work but less than 7 per cent known to social services are in paid work.
"We are very concerned that punitive measures such as benefit withdrawal will adversely impact people with a learning disability. Failure to find employment does not necessarily reflect an ‘unwillingness to cooperate', but is more likely to be as a result of employer prejudice and a lack of support.
"On average it takes more than a year for someone with a learning disability to be ‘work ready' and find employment. By imposing a one year restriction on contributory Employment Support Allowance, some people with a learning disability will face extended periods of time on Jobseekers Allowance where they may not be provided with specialist support and could face reductions in housing benefits if they are still unemployed after one year. This will have a devastating impact on people with a learning disability who are already living on benefits.
"There must be a more flexible and personalised approach to helping people into the job market rather than this one size fits all approach.
"The paper acknowledges that people with a disability may need extra support, but further clarification is needed as to what this actually means. People with a learning disability incur additional costs in housing, travel and every day life and the government need to ensure this is reflected in the Universal Credit model."
For more information please contact Michelle Fowler on 020 7696 5603 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
- About people with a learning disability and work
Less than 7 per cent of people with a learning disability known to social services are in paid work. Even where people do work, it is often for low pay and for part-time hours. However, research shows that 65 per cent of people with a learning disability want to work and with the right support they can do.
- About Mencap
Mencap supports the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK and their families and carers. Mencap fights to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities, supporting thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
We are also the largest service provider of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. See http://www.mencap.org.uk/ for more information.
- About learning disability
A learning disability is caused by the way the brain develops before, during or shortly after birth. It is always lifelong and affects someone's intellectual and social development. It used to be called mental handicap but this term is outdated and offensive. Learning disability is NOT a mental illness. The term learning difficulty is often incorrectly used interchangeably with learning disability.