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Minister sets targets to help people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities

5th March 2010

Ambitious new targets to help more people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities in the workplace, are announced today by Minister for Disabled People Jonathan Shaw.

From April this year, 2,000 people with learning disabilities and up to 1,500 people with mental health conditions will be guaranteed places on the Access to Work programme to help them stay in work.

Access to Work funds practical support in the work place for all disabled people and people with health conditions.

Ministers are clear that they want to reshape the Access to Work programme to ensure it better meets the needs of people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities.

Jonathan Shaw said:

"Last year Access to Work helped over 32,000 people, and this number will continue to grow as the programme budget grows. But we know that a disappointingly low number of people with severe mental health conditions or learning disabilities are getting this funding which would help them stay at work.

"People with mental health and learning disabilities face complex barriers, finding it difficult to get into and stay in work and we recognise we need to do more to help them. But we know that by setting these ambitious targets and doubling the Access to Work budget to £138m by 2013/14, we will make sure that even more help reaches those who need it."

Jonathan Shaw announced these new targets today at an exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

Jonathan Shaw said:

"This exhibition not only marks the anniversary of the first piece of legislation to recognise the rights of disabled people but it also celebrates the views, experiences and talents of disabled people in the UK today.

"Over the past 40 years progress has been made to improve the lives of disabled people and their families but as a Government we are determined to realise our vision that, by 2025, disabled people will enjoy the same opportunities and choices as non-disabled people, and be respected and included as equal members of society."

The Government wants to encourage more people with mental health conditions to take up the support.  Latest figures show fewer than one per cent of the people helped by Access to Work gave mental health as their main condition.

Reshaping Access to Work will help those with the greatest needs to get and keep jobs, particularly people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities, and to help more disabled people working for smaller employers.

Additional support through Access to Work includes more personalised help, more frequent reviews, offering a ‘pre-certificate’ for jobseekers to show they would, in principle, be eligible for help, part funding replacement cover for temporary leave due to mental health or fluctuating conditions, and extending support for job coaches which is likely to help people with learning disabilities.

The Government will be launching a focused marketing campaign this year to ensure disabled people who need help from Access to Work know about the programme.

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