Each week 3,000 people move from Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to Incapacity Benefit (IB), and 90 per cent of those will never return to work. The Government is determined to tackle this loss, and will launch a set of ground-breaking Job Retention Pilots working across employment, health and social security. By intervening when people have been on SSP for six weeks, Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities, and Hugh Bayley, Social Security Minister, hope to stem the flow of individuals moving into worklessness.
Job Retention Advisers will act early to assist those who have been forced to give up work through prolonged illness or disability to retain their skills and links with employers. The Advisers will work in doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, Health Action Zones, business support agencies and with large employers to provide help to sick and disabled people at source. The Department for Education and Employment, Department of Health and the Department of Social Security will also work with insurance companies to consider new ways to assist sick and disabled people back into work.
The Chancellor Gordon Brown also announced in the Budget the national extension of the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP). The success of the 36 NDDP pilots - which have helped over 2,500 disabled people back to work - is to be extended into a national programme which could help 30,000 disabled people across the country get jobs.
Margaret Hodge said:
"Every week some 3,000 people move onto Incapacity Benefit, and 2,700 of those will never ever work again. Not only are employers losing talented,skilled employees, but these people are facing the isolation and social exclusion that long term unemployment brings. We know that for many work is a route back to health - and this is a prescription for top quality health and employment assistance.
"And the extension of the New Deal for Disabled People will help match the skills of disabled people - many of whom have been out of work for years - with the needs of employers who, until now, may never have considered employing a disabled worker. There are over 1 million disabled people who want to reject dependency and find work, and the New Deal’s job brokers will go a long way to helping many disabled people reach their full potential."