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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Welfare reform - new employment programme for disabled people is launched

26th October 2010

As part of the Government’s commitment to helping disabled people, Work Choice, the employment programme for those with severe disabilities, is launched by the Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller today. It is expected to support around 23,000 severely disabled people each year – more than any of its predecessor Government programme.

This is an important part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to disabled people and ensuring they have the same opportunities and chances as everyone else.

Across the country the help previously available has been patchy and fragmented with over 200 separate contracts.  Work Choice will operate more efficiently, with just 28 contracts with Prime Providers.

The programme is available on a voluntary basis, and open to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria. It will sit alongside the new Work Programme which becomes available early next year.

Work Choice, which has been developed in close consultation with disability groups and disabled people, will greatly improve the effectiveness of current programmes by tailoring support to the needs of each person to help them find employment and then progress and stay in work.

Providers will also have the flexibility to agree with the customer what kind of support they need. This can include help with CV writing and applying for jobs. It can also progress to supporting people as they get used to going to work and will offer coaching in specific tasks as well as working with employers and co-workers to teach them how to adapt tasks so that a disabled person can continue to be employed.

Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People said:

"We must remove the barriers disabled people face to getting into mainstream employment. It is right that everyone has the opportunity to compete in the job market.

“Work is the best way out of poverty and we know over 1 million disabled people currently on benefits want to work. We must give people the support they need to do this.

“Work Choice will ensure people facing the biggest barriers to work get the intensive support they need.”


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Sunshine Meadows

Wednesday 27th October 2010 @ 15:13

Overwhelmed by the Cuts and A Lack of Equality.

Most everyone who is disabled will have times when they feel less of a person, like they are too much trouble to other people, like they wish there could magically be some way where they did not get made to feel a burden.

Right now I feel so overwhelmed by what the cuts the coalition announced are going to do to disabled people like myself and those worse off than me that it makes me feel like I am drowning, so I have been trying to distract myself and do other things. But it is not working so I decided to put some thoughts into writing. As you can see I wrote from the heart rather than in a neat and pretty way. I am leaving it this way in hopes the words go from on heart to another.

In making the cuts they have the coalition have devalued the lives of every sick and disabled person in the country including those who work. They have set a wrecking ball ready to crash into the lives of all the people who had their lives sorted, who had a place to live, a way of feeding and clothing themselves, of getting washed, of brushing their teeth, of being alive instead of just living, having a car to travel in, keeping pets, being able to afford books, a computer connection to see the world from their living room, to have a feeling of independence and being themselves and not a burden to be put in its small place.

Maybe if we tell our stories it will help (somehow).

I had to give up work because my employer could not accommodate me as a wheelchair user, I would find the disabled parking bays at work taken by able bodied people, the wheelchair access into the building became designated as the main access to everyone and for several months the electronic door opener was switched off and I could no longer get into the building without asking for another person's help, the disabled toilet was often occupied by people who went in there for various reasons including: being too lazy to walk to the men's toilets, needing to blow their nose, talk to a girlfriend on the phone, changing into motorcycle gear, the list goes on. In terms of the actual work it was a call centre and I did both call work and email support. I would find my phone log ins randomly changed, I would lose email access and my computer system would be up and down. The coffee machine I used was moved from 5 minutes wheeling away to the other end of the building. Access To Work had given the company I worked for over £10 000 to install electronic door openers to the internal doors so I could get around the building but other people turned them off by way of a switch on the top of the door. They did this because they did not like the doors being a bit heavier for them to push. This list goes on and on.

The stress, the feeling of worthlessness and humiliation, together with the physical distress meant I had to leave. I did bring a grievance which was settled (poorly), but the whole process nearly killed me and I went to counselling to sort my head out.

My ability to work was always very limited, but even that has not returned and so I went the ESA route. This brings more humiliation and feeling like crap because it's all about trying to tell them what I can't do and why. When I went to the medical the fact there was a two way mirror in the waiting room, so they could watch people, was a bit freaky.

I was given ESA only one of the lucky 15% (est) who meet the criteria and get put in the work related group. More worry about what was going to happen, but it went okay 6 interviews at the Job Centre over about 7 months and then I was told that is it until 2013 phew.

Then the budget comes and I realise I might lose out later when I am reassessed for DLA. Lose out because the assessment process of being seen by a doctor for a brief amount of time tells them little about me except yes I can just about pick up a coin.

I was upset about it but then said to myself okay think about it you have over two years before anything else is going to happen.

I tried to settle in to my life with my partner who has bipolar and barely hanging onto his job, which means my small income from ESA and DLA goes towards our mortgage. My sister also pays a third of the mortgage because she loves me enough to do so and she and I (when I was working) managed to keep the house by getting a joint mortgage.

Last year after a three year wait a very large disabled facilities grant was finally sorted and the building work was done. No more using a commode and no more not being able to get washed properly, because they put in wider doorways downstairs, made all the floors level, no more steps and put in a shower room toilet. There is even a wheelchair ramp into the garden :-) I felt so lucky, but also broken because all that work meant I was not getting better. I would never be able to walk my dog in the local woods - pathetic a want I know.

I worked for what I have, with my effort, my sister, my partner and a wonderful Occupational Therapist I finally had some breathing space and my life was set for at least two years.
No comes the news of the cuts, I will probably lose my contribution based ESA which has propped up my partner's earnings which are often less than £700 a month because of sickness. My income from DLA has a big question mark over it. Since getting on ESA I tried to find voluntary work that would keep me in the habit of 'working' but no one around here wants someone as physically limited as I am, so what hope of finding a few hours of actual work.

My sister will continue to pay a third of the mortgage as long as she has a job, but she can't do more and I would not expect it either. This house is not just home it is a disabled access and adapted home, but if my loss of ESA results in arrears to the mortgage and we will lose the house. If we lose the house there will be other consequences because we are expected to pay part of the housing grant back if the house is 'sold' within ten years.

I will never be able to get the life I have now back once it is gone. It took 7 long years to achieve after I left my family moved away to be alive and not just live.

I already said it's like a wrecking ball is posed to smash everything to bits and even in all this I will be one of the lucky ones because I already know there are a lot of disabled people who are worse off than me.

Sorry this turned out to be so long I hope people still read it.

I wrote the above post a few days ago and since then I have been thinking about work. I would like to be able to do something like my old job but working from home where everything is accessible. With working parameters that allow for the times when my cerebral palsy symptoms are worse, or when neuralgia makes one side of my face burn and my eye rage with pain. Flexible working for an employer who values me and the work I can do and does not just see me as an undeserving dreg. I have yet to find this type of employment, so my life and living circumstances rest in the hands of a coalition government that devalues my very existence.

Sunshine Meadows.

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