Social Security

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 2nd November 2017

(6 years, 6 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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Today I am publishing an updated version of the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment guide which provides guidance for health professionals carrying out PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. The Department routinely updates the guide to further clarify the policy intent and to bring it in line with legislative requirements.

PIP contributes to the extra costs faced by people with disabilities and health conditions. It is a modern, dynamic benefit that was introduced to replace the outdated disability living allowance (DLA) system. PIP is a fairer benefit, which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis. Under PIP, 29% of claimants are receiving the highest possible support, compared with just 15% under DLA.

The updated guidance will reflect binding case law following an upper tribunal judgment handed down on 9 March 2017 on how DWP considers a claimant to be carrying out an activity safely and whether they need supervision to do so. This will increase entitlement for a number of both new and existing claimants, largely those with conditions such as epilepsy, which affect consciousness. The Department estimates approximately 10,000 claims will benefit by £70 to £90 per week in 2022-23.

In the case of existing claimants the Department for Work and Pensions will undertake an exercise to go through all existing cases and identify anyone who may be entitled to more. We will then write to those people affected and all payments will be backdated to the date of the change in case law.

Alongside these changes, we have brought the guide in line with the Social Security (Personal Independent Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and have made amendments to descriptors within activity 3 (managing therapy or monitoring a health condition) and mobility activity 1 (planning and following a journey) to reflect this. We are making these changes to clarify the original policy intent.

Also, following consultation with stakeholders, and to more clearly communicate existing case law, the guidance has also been changed to add clarity for health professionals around assessing claimants with sensory difficulties. These changes will ensure that the needs of those with sensory difficulties are properly taken into account within activity 9 (engaging with others face to face) and mobility activity 1 (planning and following a journey).

The Department has also made changes to mobility activity 1 to reflect the challenges that may be faced by those with sensory difficulties in the event of disruptions to a journey. Finally, activities 7 (communicating verbally) and 9 (engaging with others face to face) have now been clarified to reiterate the original policy intent that the two activities are not mutually exclusive, and these changes will benefit a number of affected individuals.

[HCWS218]

Disabled People’s Employment Corporation (GB) Ltd

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 16th October 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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The Disabled People’s Employment Corporation (GB) Ltd, one of DWP’s arm’s-length bodies, has entered solvent members’ voluntary liquidation. Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP are the liquidators and any residual asset value will be returned to the Department. The company was previously Remploy Ltd and has been managing legacy issues following the exit of remploy employment services from Government control in April 2015 as a partly employee-owned company.

Since 2015, the board has been working towards a well-ordered closure, dealing with legacy assets and liabilities. The last premises were sold in September 2017, and the company’s members agreed to put the company into liquidation on 7 October 2017.

I plan to deposit the company’s accounts for the period up to liquidation in the Library of the House in due course. But I can reassure the House that the directors believe the company has sufficient assets to settle its creditors in full, and there will be no redundancies as the company has had no employees since 2015. The pensions of those who worked for the company are secure: the Remploy Ltd Pension and Assurance Scheme has been sponsored directly by my Department since 1 April 2016.

The liquidators are now responsible for the company, and the Department will manage the contract with the liquidator, who will refer any significant decisions regarding the on-going management of the Department’s investment in the company to the principal accounting officer if necessary. Responsibilities during this liquidation period are explained in the framework document which will be deposited in the Library of the House today.

[HCWS164]

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 12th October 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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I thank the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) for securing the debate and colleagues who have contributed. She raised a number of points, largely on the domestic agenda, which I will go through in detail. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also raised a number of issues in the wake of the report. All the issues raised by the commission and the hon. Lady are important and legitimate, and I will take them each in turn. I also want separately to address the UN process and why its credibility is so important, particularly to me personally, as the hon. Lady placed great weight on that and on me in her speech.

We are committed to the convention and to the progressive realisation of the rights for disabled people that it sets out. The UK supported the development of the convention and was one of the first countries to sign it and ratify it. We are one of the few nations that has also ratified the convention’s optional protocol, which allows individual complaints to be raised and permits the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to investigate alleged violations of the convention. For this reason, it would be quite wrong to conclude that time spent in scrutiny of a particular nation is an indication of its standing in the world on these matters. The fact is that we allow the UN to do this.

We enable our nation’s record to be examined and the full participation in that by civil society. That is a credit to the UK and an example that I hope other nations will follow. It is also a sign of our commitment to this agenda. To pretend otherwise undermines the UN’s processes and core aims, particularly those of promoting social progress and human rights. Globally, disabled people have often been the last to have those aims focused on them. They are the most discriminated against and face the greatest obstacles to reaching their full potential.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
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The Minister and I have previously discussed a case where a gentleman in my constituency with complex post-traumatic stress disorder was treated really quite poorly. One of the areas where people are really suffering is under PIP, and it is simply by design. Will she commit to looking at that? We talk about parity of esteem, but it does not exist in PIP.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention, and perhaps I can just digress to answer it. From memory, in the case that she raised on the Floor of the House, she alleged some unacceptable behaviour by one of our call assistants. In any case that any hon. Member raises with me, I will investigate fully. I obtained a transcript of the conversation, and it was absolutely not the case that what was alleged to have occurred did. I do not in any way criticise the hon. Lady, because she had this third hand, and she was quite right to raise the concerns that she did. However, where hon. Members raise issues with me as the Minister or with any of the Department for Work and Pensions team, we will investigate them fully, and any unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
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Does the Minister not recognise that, with the obsession with mobility, PIP does not recognise mental ill health? It gives far too much weight to those with a physical disability. Therefore, there simply is not parity of esteem.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I will happily come to the mental health issue later, but, as hon. Members will be aware, PIP is a better benefit by quite a dramatic degree for those who have a mental health condition, when we look at the number of those with a mental health condition who are on the highest rates of the daily living and mobility components of PIP and compare that with DLA. Let me make some progress, but I will come back to mental health.

With your indulgence, Madam Deputy Speaker, I want to set out briefly why this agenda and particularly the international agenda are so important to me. Twenty-six years ago, I worked in the hospitals and orphanages of post-revolutionary Romania, in what could only be described as medieval conditions. Most of the children in my care were disabled and all were neglected, to the point that some 14-year-olds were still being bottle-fed, half had HIV, and many had been deliberately infected and had had medicine withheld to hasten their end. Some 50% were babies with a 12% chance of making it to adulthood.

Two things stuck out for me from that experience. First, in that socialist republic, villagers who lived only a few hundred metres from those children had no caring thoughts towards them and could not understand why aid workers had come to assist them. Secondly, with the exception of the occasional visit from a healthcare professional from one of the Scandinavian nations, all the aid workers were British.

Today, I am part of a Government who, in their international aid efforts, have prioritised the 15% of the world’s population living with a disability. This agenda is the most under-prioritised and under-resourced in development. We want to establish the UK as a global leader in this field and to build on our experience and projects in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Burma, the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, and elsewhere in the world.

In 2014, the Department for International Development published the disability framework, with the objective of ensuring that people with disabilities are systematically included in, and benefit from, international development and humanitarian assistance. The following year, the framework was revised to include an enhanced focus on economic empowerment; jobs and livelihoods; tackling stigma and discrimination; and expanding the work on mental health. In addition, DFID is setting out to be a global authority on disability data. The UK can also boast of being the home of the Global Disability Innovation Hub. The inquiries that come to me from my opposite numbers around the world are not about how to stage the Paralympics, but about how to set up welfare systems and improve accessibility, employment and representation.

As I turn to the domestic agenda, which the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith focused on, I want to emphasise that I am keen to promote what we are doing because it is a catalyst for change elsewhere in the world. We have shown what can be done to facilitate disabled access, both physical and service-based, and how that can be achieved in co-operation with business and the third sector. Our work promotes change elsewhere in the world, which is why we would like the UN to recognise what we have been doing.

We have already responded to many concerns raised by the UN committee that oversees the convention through our published written response and during a face-to-face dialogue with the committee, and that is the standard reporting process for all conventions. We were active in promoting the review process with civil society, and we were extremely pleased to note how engaged they were with this process. I will set out our long-term reporting plans shortly.

The immediate next step will be a response to correct some of the factual inaccuracies in the UN report. In line with the convention, disability is mainstreamed. Every Department is responsible for considering disability in the development and implementation of its policies. That responsibility is made clear through the legislative duties placed on all public bodies by the public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 and the Northern Ireland Act 1998. As a general principle, we do not incorporate international treaties into domestic law. However, the UK Equality Act 2010 enshrines the right of people in Great Britain with any of nine protected characteristics to live free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation, and have equal opportunities in domestic law.

The UK has a long-standing tradition of ensuring that rights and liberties are protected domestically and of fulfilling our international obligations. The decision to leave the European Union does not change that: in fact, it affords us the opportunity to enhance that agenda. It is perhaps more important to focus on how the Equality Act and other legislation, such as the Care Act 2014, are enforced. Hon. Members will know that that has been a focus for the Office for Disability Issues under my tenure.

I turn to the issues raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith and by the EHRC, including the claim that some of the Equality Act provisions applicable to Great Britain are not in force. We take note of the concerns about those provisions and we regularly review the scope for introducing further provision, including the duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of rented properties, as the Minister for Equalities promised the Lords Equality Act 2010 and Disability Committee we would. We are looking at the implementation of the requirement for political parties to publish diversity data. We will report back to Parliament in due course on all those issues.

The EHRC also raised the issue of Northern Ireland currently providing weaker protection than other areas in the UK. The Northern Ireland Executive’s draft programme for Government 2016-21 includes a proposal to amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to increase statutory protection for disabled people, and that remains subject to review and approval by future Ministers and the Northern Ireland Assembly, and I hope that that will be progressed.

The EHRC also called for a co-ordinated, UK-wide action plan to implement the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, which the hon. Lady also mentioned. The Office for Disability Issues is currently reflecting on how we take this work forward, and we are carefully considering our approach, which we will discuss with stakeholders in due course. I can give the hon. Lady assurances that I am keen to use the process that we go through with the UN to help to speed up progress on a range of issues. We will report on that in due course.

The UK has some of the strongest legislation in the world to protect the human rights of disabled people. Current OECD data puts the UK’s public spending on supporting disability above all G7 countries bar one. Disability benefits spending will be higher than in 2010 for every year until 2020 and is currently at a record high.

The hon. Lady raised concerns about PIP and mental health, in particular. We will respond shortly to Paul Gray’s second review of PIP. The House does not have long to wait before we publish that and, as part of that, we undertook to look in particular at mental health, in part because of the issues raised here and in the other place about those regulations. If she will bear with me, she will not have long to wait on that.

The Department has also undertaken work on conditionality and sanctions, initially looking at those with a mental health condition. We will make announcements on that shortly, but I am not able to do so this evening. We have also been recruiting to set up user rep panels for ESA and PIP. I very much agree with what the hon. Lady says about not just occasionally consulting, but embedding the opportunities for disabled people to shape, continually and in real time, improvements that we want to make to the welfare system and other areas, and to inform proactively any future reform that we may wish to undertake.

Last year, we launched “Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper” and the associated consultation. With more than 6,000 responses, we successfully sparked a national discussion on how better to support people with disabilities and health conditions to get into, stay in and progress through work. We are carefully considering the responses and our next steps for longer-term reform, which we will set out this autumn. Our goal is to get a million more disabled people into work, so that more talent is utilised and more people can reach their full potential.

I can tell the hon. Lady that there are no plans to amend minimum wage legislation. The employment rate for people with learning disabilities is less than 6%. Given the right vocational education and independent living support, that could rise to 86%. That is what we should be concentrating on if we want to assist those people into the workplace. Whether someone has a learning disability or not, if they work a day, they should be paid for a day.

The issues concerning deaf and hearing impaired people have been raised in a couple of interventions. The needs of those people have been a particular focus, especially in the health and work Green Paper. The issue of guide dogs and assistance dogs was raised. As it is Guide Dogs Week, the Office for Disability Issues has led a project working with all assistance dog charities with a view to reducing the waiting time that people may face to get one of those vital dogs and with the aim of agreeing a national standard to enable them to use their resources better.

In our work with the joint Health and Work Unit, we are looking at opportunities to ensure that disabled people’s organisations are at the heart of shaping, evaluating and setting the agenda for the kind of employment support we should be providing. Many of the things that we have been doing chime with what the hon. Lady has on her wish list.

The agenda is much wider than that, however. In February, my Department announced 11 new sector champions, who will help to tackle the issues faced by disabled people as consumers. These champions represent a range of sectors and business areas—from banking to aviation and from sport to retail. They are using their influence to drive improvements in accessibility and the quality of services and facilities within their sector. I pay tribute to them for their outstanding work.

Through initiatives run by the ODI, we are harnessing the power of technology, with new opportunities to enforce the Equality Act better and to improve accessibility. There is much more I could say about the work of the ODI and the Government on tackling hate crime; on building regulations and housing; on the provision of critical facilities, such as changing places and loos, on which we are in discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government; on tackling the extra costs of disability; on changes to education and extending opportunity; and on the additional provisions of the Equality Act that are coming in and which we wish to bring into force.

As we develop our UN reporting process, I hope that further engagement on these issues will be possible with colleagues in this place and the other place. I hope that the UN will recognise not just the progress that the UK has made—and is making—and our ambitions on this agenda, but our humanitarian desire to help other nations to achieve more. I know the difference that the UK makes in many of the DFID-run projects that it has been my privilege to have seen, as it did 26 years earlier in the former eastern bloc. The UN’s support is not a necessary condition for our success, but it would be welcome and helpful.

Question put and agreed to.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 9th October 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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The employment rate among disabled people has increased to 49%, and the Government are committed to getting 1 million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years.

Kate Green Portrait Kate Green
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In 2015, the Minister said the Government’s aim was to halve the disability employment gap by 2020, and in 2016 the Social Market Foundation said that that meant an extra 1.2 million disabled people in employment, but now the Minister tells us that the ambition is for an extra 1 million disabled people in work within 10 years. Why are Ministers becoming less ambitious for disability employment?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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When Labour was in office, it did very well in closing the disability employment gap—by raising the unemployment level among the general population. We will take a different approach. As I have said in this place before, we will look in great detail at the local numbers—for example, the numbers of people with a learning disability coming out of education; that is what we need to get people focused on.

Michael Tomlinson Portrait Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con)
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I warmly welcome the latest employment figures, particularly the youth employment figures. We are within touching distance of record youth unemployment. On young disabled people, will the Minister comment on Leonard Cheshire Disability and the great work it does, particularly its Can Do scheme? I think she recently met ambassadors of that scheme.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for allowing me to pay tribute to Leonard Cheshire. It has launched a number of interesting and effective initiatives, which are very much part of our Work and Health programme.

Liz McInnes Portrait Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab)
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A constituent suffering from mental health problems who came to my surgery at the weekend has been denied employment and support allowance. Her sister came with her to tell me that my constituent had attempted suicide four days earlier. What is the Department going to do to identify and help vulnerable people like her?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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In recent years the Department has introduced a number of measures to ensure that those who carry out assessments for either personal independence payments or ESA have had training so that they can recognise a mental health condition and flag up that condition or any concerns they may have. However, the work capability assessment itself is not working. It was introduced by the Labour party—[Interruption]—with the best intentions, but it has elements that do not work. Given the opportunities that will result from the work and health road map, I hope that Labour will work with us to reform those elements.

Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con)
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I am organising a Disability Confident event in my constituency to try to encourage more employers to take on people with disabilities, and I am grateful to the jobcentre for its support. Would the Minister like to come along so that she can, in person, encourage employees in my constituency to take on more disabled people?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I congratulate my hon. Friend and other Members on both sides of the House who have run Disability Confident events and signed up employers. Our 5,000th employer has just been signed up. If I cannot attend my hon. Friend’s event, I shall be happy to send a video instead.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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But I am sure that it is a personal ambition of the hon. Lady to go to her hon. Friend’s constituency. We look forward to getting an update in due course.

Stephen Pound Portrait Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab)
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May I address my question to the Minister who speaks for a party that has been in power for more than seven years? This morning my constituent, Debbie A, came to tell me that she had failed her ESA assessment, first because she had been told that she could hear her name being called from the waiting room, when in fact she had been told that it was being called by her son, who was sitting next to her; and, secondly, because the report had said that she had been hit by a bus, when in fact she had been hit on a bus. Does not the Minister accept that there are profound systemic problems in the assessment process?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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There are things that we can do to improve the assessment process dramatically and also, more critically, to prevent people from having to go through those assessments. The thrust of the health and work consultation paper that we issued this year is to bring about early intervention in healthcare and to use healthcare information to populate the welfare system, and that is what we are trying to do.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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What steps are the Government taking to use technology to help their equality agenda, specifically in respect of disabilities?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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We have just launched a platform called OpenLab, which brings together those working in technology and disability, and focuses primarily on accessibility issues. It will enable us to publicise problems that we are trying to solve, but will also enable that community to work together to arrive at solutions faster.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
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6. How many new claims for universal credit have been paid on time since its introduction.

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Paul Williams Portrait Dr Paul Williams (Stockton South) (Lab)
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18. What steps his Department is taking to ensure that personal independence payment assessments are undertaken fairly and efficiently.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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We are committed to ensuring that people receive high-quality, fair and accurate assessments. The Department robustly monitors providers’ performance and independently audits assessments. Both providers are now increasing clinical support across their centres and providing more personalised coaching for their healthcare professionals.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle
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The Department seems to conclude that everything is hunky-dory with PIP assessments, just as it did—erroneously—with work capability assessments. The Disability News Service says it has more than 200 cases of inaccurate PIP assessments, and I have come across plenty in Southwark, including that of my constituent, Tarik Ali. Tarik was assessed as having no evidence of hearing loss, despite being deaf in one ear. He was awarded no points for needing support to manage medication, despite the fact that he sees a GP every three weeks and that his carer manages his medication on a daily basis. There was no mention of Behçet’s syndrome in his assessment, despite its having been included in five hospital reports, his GP records and his medication prescription. When will the Minister stop cutting vital help to genuinely disabled people, stop wasting taxpayers’ money on inaccurate assessments and fake mandatory reconsiderations, and finally end the glaring inaccuracies in PIP assessments?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Currently, 3% of caseload is overturned on appeal, and in the last quarter the number of cases having to go to appeal dropped by 22%. We have introduced changes to get evidence in earlier and to improve the quality of assessments, but we will respond to all the things that Paul Gray has set out in his review this autumn.

Paula Sherriff Portrait Paula Sherriff
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Two thirds of disabled people are successful at tribunal when they appeal PIP decisions. Given that the system is so clearly flawed, will the Minister commit to a full overhaul of the assessment process?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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We have opportunities to reduce the burden on individuals going through assessments through what we are trying to do with the work capability assessment and by enabling information used in health care and in ESA assessments to reduce the burden on people getting PIP assessments—and, hopefully, doing away with the volume of assessments that people have. However, I say to the hon. Lady that currently 3% of cases are overturned on appeal. We are doing our best to ensure that the right decision is made earlier, and that seems to be bearing fruit in the numbers of people going to appeal.

Paul Williams Portrait Dr Paul Williams
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In my experience as a GP, the impact of the conditions of people with anxiety and even agoraphobia is often not adequately assessed within PIP. I welcome the introduction of mental health nurses to the process, but how will the culture of the assessment be changed so that people’s physical and mental health capabilities are assessed holistically?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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One of the changes that we have recently made with both providers is that before they turn to the healthcare evidence and the other things that have traditionally formed part of the assessment, they talk with the individual about the impact of the condition on their day-to-day life. That, I think, has improved the assessment dramatically.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)
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PIP is causing misery for thousands of disabled people. Two disabled people who were in my surgery this Saturday are threatened with destitution because the money that they got as part of their lifetime award under the disability living allowance was stopped following their PIP assessment. The conditions they have had since birth have not and will not change. Why will the Government not exempt people with lifelong or progressive conditions from ongoing PIP assessments, as they are doing with the work capability assessments?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Lady is right that we have made that change in employment and support allowance. I give her one example: about 84% of people with motor neurone disease are on the highest rates for PIP, but 16% are not. It is therefore perfectly possible that someone will not be receiving the maximum amount of support but that as their condition progresses, they will need additional support. As I said earlier, we are trying to reduce the burden on individuals going through assessments, but some people will still need to have assessments for PIP because their need becomes greater.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
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10. What steps he is taking to support disabled people to live independently.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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Supporting someone to live independently is an essential part of enabling that person to pursue their goals, whether they are personal or career goals. Education and independent living support are the two highest priorities for the Office for Disability Issues.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day
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Every week around 800 Motability vehicles are taken away from disabled people across the UK as a result of the transition to PIP and, according to the most recent DWP statistic on reassessments, 48% of claimants receive a lower level or no award when transferring from DLA to PIP. Does the Minister really believe that taking money away from disabled people on low incomes will help them to live independently?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Gentleman will know that in spring we announced changes to Motability to enable people to keep their cars pending appeal. We are looking to make changes to Motability, and I am pleased to say that many in this House have supported the campaign led by Together for Short Lives to extend the Motability scheme to under-threes. We have been in discussions with Motability and the Family Fund about extending Motability to under-threes. Individual constituents will not need to apply; they will be referred by the Family Fund. This is a big step forward in enabling families with small children who have heavy equipment to socialise and go out together.

Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
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My constituent Jacci Woodcock has been campaigning for some time for Dying to Work. She has a terminal illness and was hounded out by her employer. She would like more employers to sign up—employers such as Derbyshire County Council and Rolls-Royce Aero Engines, which have just done so. Will the Minister say what steps she would like to see to ensure that people have more dignity when they have a terminal diagnosis?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for what she has done on the campaign and also Rolls-Royce and her local authority for signing up. I also thank her for bringing Jacci Woodcock to the Department for Work and Pensions to meet me. I think that all Members owe Jacci Woodcock a great debt of gratitude for the campaign that she has run in very trying and difficult circumstances. I have listened to her with great care, and we will take on board her recommendations as part of the health and work road map, which we will publish later this autumn.

Jo Swinson Portrait Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD)
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The stress and exhaustion caused to my constituent by the removal of her Motability car led to her losing her professional post and being redeployed to a role on half the salary. Will the Minister look again at the ridiculous situation whereby the Government are prepared to spend more on Access to Work payments for taxis—in this case nearly £4,500—than on PIP mobility support, which would offer real independence to disabled workers?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Lady makes a very good point; indeed, we are looking at precisely that. There are lots of pots of money out there—PIP and Access to Work, which she mentioned, are just two—but very little reference between them. We have been working on that and we hope to make some announcements shortly.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con)
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12. What progress is being made on the Health and Work programme.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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I am pleased to announce to the House that six contracts between the Department and the successful suppliers to the Health and Work Programme were signed on 29 September.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
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It is clear that the Health and Work programme presents an opportunity to bring a lot more disabled people into work. Will the Minister tell the House what requirements are being put on contract providers?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The key to the programme is that participants will receive much more personalised and tailored support. We need to provide bespoke things to individuals who have complex needs if we want them to be successful. We will be looking for providers to forge links with employers, nationally and locally, but also with health and social care and other local services.

Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) (Lab)
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The Government have backtracked on their commitment to halve the disability employment gap, and the funding for the Work and Health programme will be as little as £130 million a year, which is a fraction of what was set aside for the Work programme. Given the recent report from the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which condemned the Government’s progress, can the Minister advise when they will finally publish their response to the “Work, health and disability” Green Paper? Will the Government respond to the UN’s concerns and include high-quality, impairment-specific support, which disabled people have been calling for?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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May I start by welcoming the hon. Lady to her post?

Despite the weeks of the general election, we are still going to meet our original timetable to publish the health and work road map, which will set out in detail not just the Health and Work programme, which is only one small part of what we are planning, but a full comprehensive package to deliver personalised, tailored support for disabled people, support for employers, healthcare reforms and welfare reforms.

The Office for Disability Issues is looking at the UN report; we volunteered to put ourselves through this process, and there is more we can do to lever in some of the things in that report to help achieve some of our ambitions, particularly on accessibility.

Stephen McPartland Portrait Stephen McPartland (Stevenage) (Con)
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13. Whether he has plans to reduce the taper rate for universal credit claimants.

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Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
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15. If he will take steps to ensure that people applying for personal independence payments are seen by a specialist at their initial assessment.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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Personal independence payment assessments require specialist skills, which is why they are undertaken by qualified health professionals, who are experts in disability analysis, and focus on the effects of health conditions and impairments on an individual’s daily life.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is not the experience of some of my constituents, including one who has a rare condition and is on the highest level of DLA, and so should automatically be entitled to PIP, but whose assessor had no knowledge of the condition and refused the PIP application. Will the Minister specify the exact training, experience and competence requirements an applicant would have to demonstrate to qualify as a healthcare professional who could undertake PIP assessments for the DWP?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I have stated many times in the House the categories of healthcare professionals who can work as PIP assessors—it is a long list—but I should point out that these people are not carrying out health assessments. They are not there to diagnose; they are there to record the impact of someone’s condition on their personal life, which is quite different. As I have said in answer to previous questions, we will introduce some new measures on PIP as part of our response to Paul Gray’s second review.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are well out of time, but we will take the last question because I do not want the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) to feel left out. Let us hear him.

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Jo Churchill Portrait Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds) (Con)
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T3. In the light of the worrying figures, both nationally and for my constituency, will my hon. Friend the Minister outline the steps the Department is taking to reduce the level of personal independence payment reassessments, so that individuals in my constituency can access at the earliest opportunity the benefits that are due to them?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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We have implemented a wide range of initiatives across the whole claim process, including speeding up the process to clear more claims, increasing the number of healthcare professionals and extending working hours, and making improvements to IT systems.

Lord Mann Portrait John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab)
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T9. Universal credit is to be introduced in my constituency on 14 December, which, in my view, is indecent. The introduction should be delayed, as it will be a catastrophe for many children at Christmas. As the Secretary of State believes the opposite, will he accept my offer now of a visit to my constituency the week after its introduction, in the run-up to Christmas, to see whether I am right or he is right and what the impact will be?

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con)
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T4. I know Ministers take very seriously the responsibility of supporting those with mental ill health to stay in work. One of my constituents has contacted me about his concerns. He is suffering from mental health challenges and is finding that the constant threat of redundancy or reorganisation is taking a toll on his mental health. Can the Minister tell me now, or write to me, to explain what obligations employers have to take into account their employees’ mental health when they are making such decisions?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am sorry to hear about the experience of my right hon. Friend’s constituent. As she will know, the Prime Minister commissioned a review of mental health in the workplace led by Paul Farmer and Dennis Stevenson. Their findings will be reported to this House shortly.

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Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab)
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I find the Minister’s previous response surprising because a response to a recent written question showed that about two thirds of decisions against awarding PIP and ESA in Barnsley East are eventually overturned on appeal, with these appeals taking an average of 15 weeks to be decided. Does the Minister believe that it is acceptable to make my constituents who are eligible for vital financial assistance wait nearly four extra months?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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No. That is why we are trying to get better decisions earlier in the process. We have made progress. As I said, the number of PIP cases going to appeal has fallen by 22% over the last quarter. We will continue—

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

They are published; they were published a few weeks ago. We will shortly bring forward our response to Paul Gray’s second review, which will contain further things that I hope the hon. Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock) will welcome.

Matt Warman Portrait Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T8. I recently met the excellent local branch of the charity Scope in Boston. It praised the Government’s work on changing the testing regime for those with long-term conditions, but asked what progress are the Government making on their continued bid to simplify the bureaucracy of the forms and the application process for benefits to which people are entitled?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The severe conditions criteria are a big step forward and will save people from having to go through reassessments. I have already stated that we intend to do more on PIP and the work capability assessment. The severe conditions criteria also allow us to save bureaucracy at local government level. If we can passport that information to local government, it will help with things such as the blue badge scheme and other forms that people have to fill in that are not directly supplied by DWP or the Government.

John Cryer Portrait John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab)
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I would invite the Employment Minister to visit my local jobcentre, but he is busy circumventing his own criteria to shut it down. In view of the problems with universal credit, why does he not revisit those decisions, keep jobcentres open and stop forcing some of the most vulnerable people to travel for hours just to get the benefits that they are entitled to?

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Sharon Hodgson Portrait Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
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I wrote to the Secretary of State on Friday about my constituent, Danielle Brown, who lost her leg at the age of two. She has now lost her PIP and her Motability car. Will the Minister look into this case and assure me that I will get a reply as soon as possible?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I would be happy to look at the hon. Lady’s case. We changed the rules on Motability to ensure that people could go to appeal and not lose their car in the meantime. It sounds as if something has gone wrong in this particular case. I cannot make a decision, but I can look at the case and see what we can do to help.

Anna Soubry Portrait Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
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I am grateful to the Government for the assistance given to my constituent, who had to leave Dominica because of the terrible damage caused by the hurricane. But on her return back to this country with her 22-month-old son, she has discovered that she is not entitled to any benefits whatever for three months. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can ensure that we have a right and proper system to make sure that people in such circumstances really are entitled to benefits?

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Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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The all-party parliamentary group on deafness recently heard compelling evidence about the disproportionate and damaging impact the cap on awards under the Access to Work scheme is having on people who use British sign language as their first language, with deaf people having job offers withdrawn, withdrawing from their roles and giving up on their careers. The Government say they are committed to improving disabled people’s opportunities at work, but this policy is destroying them. Will the Minister think again?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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We have looked in great detail at many aspects of Access to Work, and although it is a popular scheme, there are many things we want to change in it. I very much recognise that the scheme is not just about giving someone a piece of technology to enable them to communicate; it is about giving them the services they need to be their best—to thrive and to be their most creative in the workplace. For some, that will involve British sign language interpreters. This is very much an area we are looking at, and it will be something we bring forward and report back on in the health and work road map.

Dan Jarvis Portrait Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab)
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Are levels of child poverty falling or rising?

Leaving the EU: Disabled People’s Services

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 11th July 2017

(6 years, 10 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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I think I can manage that, Mr Hollobone. I thank the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron) for securing this important and helpful debate. I put on record my thanks, and those of the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and his Ministers, to Disability Rights UK for the welcome and helpful work that it has done on the manifesto. I also thank the other Members who have contributed to this discussion.

I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady that this is not just about markets and money. I say that not just as a politician or an avid leave campaigner. I have gone the length and breadth of the country, and I know the public think that Brexit is more than markets and money. They voted to leave or remain for a variety of reasons: for this country’s potential to have a positive effect in developing nations, which could have huge benefits for the disabled community overseas; for all sorts of societal reasons; for the primacy of international humanitarian law; for skills training in the UK; and for lots of other reasons, including additional funding for our public services.

As we talk about Brexit in this place and consider what we need to do as we exit the EU and how to maximise and lever all the opportunities that will come with it, we must talk about a broad range of issues that matter to the public, of whom disabled people form a large cohort. In research done by the Papworth Trust last year, a randomly sampled survey showed that 54% of disabled people voted to leave. Clearly, the community has clear ideas about what it wants us to secure and protect as we exit the EU.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
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I thank the Minister for referring to that important piece of research. My understanding of the Papworth Trust’s research is that many disabled people voted to leave based on the consideration that additional funding might come to the NHS, and therefore to their care. Does she not think that that shows how important it is that we recognise the needs and care of disabled people in our Brexit negotiations?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I agree completely, and I will address the issues that the hon. Lady and other Members have raised during this debate.

Members have spoken about services and about strengthening rights and supporting disabled people to reach their full potential, whether through employment or by other means, and play their full part in society. The decision to leave the EU does not change those priorities. Government officials are comprehensively considering the impact of the transition on disabled people.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
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Many disability activists—including Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers, a group of young disabled campaigners tackling social equality issues affecting young disabled people, such as access to transport, higher education, employment and social and leisure opportunities—are concerned about the potential impact of leaving the EU on their human rights and ability to live independently. They want to know whether the Minister will guarantee whether all rights for disabled people contained in EU directives will be incorporated into the repeal Bill.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Yes, certainly. I will come to the detail in a moment, but absolutely. The repeal Bill, contrary to what its name might suggest, is about transferring those rights into UK law.

As we have a little time, let me give an example of the direction that we want to take. A muscular dystrophy trailblazer—in fact, the muscular dystrophy trailblazer of the year, a fantastic young woman called Lauren who is a fashion student—inspired some changes that we have made recently to the Motability scheme. She got a fantastic work opportunity overseas that she felt she could not take because of the admin that she would have to do on returning to secure her Motability car. We have changed the rules for that scheme to enable anyone who has an opportunity to live overseas for a long period—a sabbatical, a work experience opportunity, romance or whatever—to do so without being prevented by our admin. We listen to disability organisations extremely carefully. As young people like her seize greater opportunities through more global trade and business relationships, we should ensure that admin in our Departments keeps pace with them rather than being an obstacle.

My Department, the Office for Disability Issues and other Departments are supporting DExEU in its aims. As negotiations about our future relationship with the EU progress, the Government will ensure that any impact on disabled people is taken into account. As part of its work to uphold rights and equalities, DExEU’s stakeholder engagement team is working with civil society groups and disability organisations and their members to consider the broad range of those issues in detail. DExEU officials have already met a number of organisations, including Mencap and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, and some of their membership.

Officials are also developing plans for further engagement across the sector, including meetings with the Disability Charities Consortium, with which DExEU is currently liaising to ensure that officials and Ministers are hearing the sector’s concerns. There will also be direct engagement with other groups run by and representing disabled people. DExEU Ministers are keen to hear from any disabled people or disability groups who want to draw their attention to any aspect of the matter.

David Linden Portrait David Linden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I get the impression from the Minister that the Government are in listening mode. May I therefore extend an invitation to her, and indeed to DExEU Ministers and officials, to come to Glasgow for a meeting with the Glasgow Disability Alliance, which has done excellent work with its manifesto to get these issues on the agenda?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I would certainly be happy to do that. I am always happy to visit, although it may have to be during the recess. The Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), has responsibility in this area and responsibility for Scotland. I am sure there will be opportunities to talk to him directly.

Throughout the negotiations, Ministers and officials are holding meetings with the business community and others about a variety of issues. I know from my own sense check of DExEU that the materials that may be needed to support those meetings, such as documents in accessible formats, are in good order.

DExEU’s engagement with stakeholders will ensure that our commitment to equalities through the transition remains steadfast. Indeed, we hope to use the EU exit as a potential opportunity to create standards that are higher than the EU’s in many areas—I know that the Disability Charities Consortium is particularly keen on looking at such opportunities. To support this work, DExEU will share with colleagues in other Departments, including me in the Office for Disability Issues, the insight gained from its stakeholder engagement on this and other matters. Brexit is a cross-cutting issue, and the Government are co-ordinating work to ensure continuity for everyone in this country in the wake of the legislative transfer. In our relationship with the EU, the UK has been a leader on many equality issues. I hope we will continue to hold that leadership role even outside the EU.

Let me address some concerns mentioned by the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow. Our standards on rail vehicle accessibility for disabled people were used as the model for EU-wide standards. That is just one example. On bus driver training, which she mentioned, the EU regulation came into force on 1 March 2013 and training has to be put in place within five years. As she will know, the Department for Transport has been doing an awful lot to ensure not just that the right legislation is in place, but that bus drivers are trained and that the standards of customer service that people enjoy on public transport are maintained. My Department is supporting that work. One of our disability sector champions, Jane Cole, is promoting good practice on disability awareness training—I place my thanks to her on the record.

I hope we maintain our leadership role. The UK has some of the strongest equalities legislation in the world, including the Equality Act 2010, which enshrines equality in domestic law. A huge focus of my Department is on ensuring that that law is enforced, because we cannot rely on people having to sue organisations to enforce it. We have some new opportunities to achieve that, particularly by utilising technology. That is one way in which the Office for Disability Issues can support this agenda.

The hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) raised the ESF. For projects signed off after the autumn statement, which will continue after we leave the EU, funding will be honoured by the Treasury. We expect those projects to provide value for money and to be in line with our domestic priorities. We want leaving the EU to mean that we can take our own decisions and set for ourselves the policy objectives that were previously targeted to gain EU funding. The Government will continue to consult stakeholders to review EU funding schemes in the round and ensure that any ongoing funding commitments best serve the UK’s national interests.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Has there been any discussion of whether the funding that was received from the EU will be matched in the long term?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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For projects that are already ongoing, the funding will continue. That will be honoured by the Treasury. In a way, the European social fund is the easiest issue to grapple with, but a large focus of DExEU’s work is on other issues. Future projects that meet the objectives of the Government of the day and that offer good value for money will be funded by the Treasury. New as well as continuing projects will be dealt with in that way. However, we are well aware that the UK’s third sector has mapped the fact that it relies on funding from all sorts of other sources than the European social fund. DExEU and the Equality and Diversity Forum have a project that is looking at how to ensure that the sector will not suffer, and that leaving the EU will not be detrimental to the funding that goes into those projects.

My office is looking across all areas at how to enable the third sector to derive a greater income. Understandably, we have cracked down on all sorts of fundraising—chugging and so forth—that the sector has done over many years and that the public are concerned about. However, these organisations provide amazing services to some incredibly vulnerable people. We have to enable them to continue to provide those services and, ideally, extend their reach. In every aspect of our work, we are actively doing more work in partnership with the sector and more co-funding, enabling those organisations to derive a larger income for the services and support that they provide. That is a particularly important project that does not get a lot of airtime, whereas understandably the social fund does.

On freedom of movement, there are opportunities for disabled people. It has been too easy to neglect not just the vocational and skills training that people need, but things like independent living support that we know people need in order to thrive and undertake meaningful activity and work. The negotiations on freedom of movement as we leave the EU will force us, and will force business, to look at our labour market strategy. There are some opportunities to be seized as we leave the EU.

The hon. Members for Greenwich and Woolwich and for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow focused on healthcare and social care, which are obviously incredibly important. I point them to the manifesto, which paid particular attention to EU nationals working in our NHS and the priority we wish to give them. I also underline the work on social care that is going on across Government. Understandably, the media have focused on social care for older people, but we are also looking at social care for those of working age, who do not get a lot of press attention. My office is heavily involved—hon. Members will see more of that in the near future.

The hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich made a point about the Home Office. As in the preceding debate, hon. Members will have to make do with the Minister in the Chamber, but DExEU is the co-ordinating Department. However, I am sure that I can commission either DExEU or the Home Office to answer in detail on visa applications and support requirements for people who wish to come here.

With regard to my own Department, I will point to what we have done for other groups. One of the first things that I did was to amend the rules on the past presence test for refugee children who had a disability. I felt that, if we were taking refugees and they had particular needs, we should meet them. I point to that as evidence that we are very aware of our responsibilities and I undertake to ensure that either the Home Office or DExEU update the hon. Members for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, and for Greenwich and Woolwich, on the specific points about visas.

In the time that I have left, I will just touch on some other points. It is important to put on the record as well that we are going through a process of examination by the United Nations regarding the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. That also affords us some opportunities, and I am undertaking a piece of work in my Department to consider how we can use the principles set out in the convention to enshrine them in the heart of the work of every Government Department. As I say, that convention affords us some opportunities, and that work will be a very encouraging and positive exercise.

We have other considerable opportunities as a result of leaving the EU. I am hotfooting it from Westminster Hall over the road to launch a paper with Localis on a sector deal in the industrial strategy on disability. There are some tremendous opportunities that join up all the agendas that hon. Members have spoken about today on employment, our ambitions on international development and all sorts of things, and on harnessing the tremendous innovation, the science, and the research and development that goes on in the UK, whether it be in assistive technology, design or all the things that we showcase at the global disability innovation hub not far from where we are today. We have tremendous opportunities that not only play into growth, jobs, markets and money but do so much more.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for being generous in giving way once again. Will she meet the all-party group on disability to discuss its recent inquiry report, “Ahead of the arc”, which examines some of the important issues that she has referred to, including industrial strategy and why disability rights and employment for people who are disabled should be at its core?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am always happy to meet that group and I await an invitation.

In closing, I thank hon. Members for their contributions today. I hope that, as legislation is introduced and as negotiations progress, we can continue to keep the issues of specific interest to disabled people high on the agenda. I am very encouraged by what DExEU has done to date and by its plans for the future, and I encourage disabled people and their organisations to engage with the process. Only then will we get a Brexit that we can be proud of. I thank the hon. Lady for playing her part in that today.

Office for Nuclear Regulation

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 6th July 2017

(6 years, 10 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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Later today I will lay before this House two reports on the Office for Nuclear Regulation: the annual report and accounts 2016-17 and the corporate plan 2017-18. These documents will also be published on the ONR website.

I can confirm, in accordance with schedule 7, section 25(3) of the Energy Act 2013, that there have been no exclusions to the published documents on the grounds of national security.

[HCWS32]

Theme Parks: Child Safety

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 3rd July 2017

(6 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

I thank the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) for securing this debate and commend him for the support and advocacy he has shown for his constituents. May I take this opportunity to extend my sincere sympathy to Evha’s family and friends at their immense loss, and to join the right hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to all those who have assisted by helping on that tragic day and since? In particular, I wish to thank him for mentioning the HSE—I am the Minister with responsibility for that body—its 50-strong fairground inspection team and, in particular, the two officers he mentioned for the leadership they have shown in this instance.

The right hon. Gentleman will know that Staffordshire police, with the HSE’s support, are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding Evha’s death and that, as a result of that ongoing investigation, I am constrained as to what I can say, particularly about this incident. However, I hope to afford him and his constituents some reassurances, within those constraints. I can confirm that Drayton Manor’s procedures for responding to emergencies at this ride, including its arrangements for identifying and rescuing anyone who falls into the water, will be examined as part of the investigation and that the ride remains closed while this investigation takes place.

Immediately after the accident, the HSE contacted Merlin, which operates similar machines manufactured by Intamin at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park. Merlin had already closed its rides so that it could conduct an in-depth check to ensure that the machines were operating correctly. It agreed to keep the rides closed until the HSE could reassure it that there was nothing physically wrong with the Drayton Manor ride that would increase the risk to passengers. The HSE did that, and the rides were closed for three days.

Once it had completed its checks, Merlin confirmed to the HSE that it had reviewed all the operating procedures to ensure they were in line with the manufacturer’s instructions and that the operators were working in accordance with their training. It also confirmed that it had reviewed the arrangements for supervising the ride and the riders, ensuring that only those who could be safely accommodated were allowed on to the ride; providing clear instructions to riders to remain in their seats while the ride is in operation, and not to stand, swap seats, lean out of the boat and so on; and ensuring that riders knew that the ride is vigorous and that they need to hold on as the boat moves down the ride. Merlin also confirmed that it had reviewed its rescue and response measures to ensure that it would know immediately that a person had fallen into the water; and that, crucially, it could stop the water flow with an emergency stop and could swiftly get someone out of the water using appropriate techniques and equipment. On the information provided, the HSE was satisfied with Merlin’s review of those other rides. That is important to mention in the immediate aftermath of that tragic incident.

Following the incident, the HSE also sent out an information note to the Amusement Devices Safety Council for onward transmission, reminding ride operators of the steps that they were required to take in order to ensure the safety of riders on water rides, in particular. Those included some of the areas that I have just mentioned. Any specific learnings that come out of the investigation at Drayton Manor will be shared with the industry so that it can ensure that they are taken on board.

As I said, the investigation is ongoing and the ride has been shut down to allow that to proceed. The specific lines of inquiry that are being followed cannot currently be disclosed, for reasons that the right hon. Gentleman will understand, but, based on the emerging findings of the investigation, the Health and Safety Executive has no information that suggests the other rides are unsafe to operate.

The investigation is also looking at the arrangements made by the school. After the incident, the Department for Education produced a statement with further advice. If necessary, it will provide additional guidance, should the investigation identify deficiencies in the processes.

Fortunately, serious issues such as this one are rare, but the right hon. Gentleman is quite right to point out that even one is one too many. This was the first drowning on a water ride in the UK. Following such an incident, the Health and Safety Executive carries out an in-depth investigation, not only to establish the causes of the incident but to achieve justice for the victims and their families. Any lessons learned will be shared with the industry, which will be required to implement them.

By way of example, as I am constrained in what I can say about the Drayton Manor incident, I shall explain what happened following the Alton Towers incident involving a multi-car rollercoaster. The operators reviewed and tested their operational and administrative procedures for clearing the block-stops on multi-car coasters. Merlin reviewed its safety management arrangements at Alton Towers and implemented a number of recommendations. Alton Towers’ staff did a series of national and international presentations explaining what went wrong and why. It is important to mention that, because the right hon. Gentleman rightly flagged up the fact that we can learn from other nations, and other nations can learn from what has happened at our theme parks.

The HSE national fairground inspection team’s work plan for this year includes the inspection of multi-car rollercoasters at specific theme parks. The HSE is working with theme park operators and their representative body, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, to improve management systems for the control of risks associated with rides such as roller coasters. There is no room for complacency, and the lessons that can be learned from incidents are certainly disseminated, with any new requirements enforced.

If the investigations into the recent incident expose any breaches of the law, appropriate action will be taken to hold those responsible to account. If any shortcomings are found in the current regulatory regime, steps will be taken to address them. The Health and Safety Executive will act on information received about incidents in other countries. Often, that information is communicated to the executive through its contacts with the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, which is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The Health and Safety Executive publishes its safety alerts and bulletins on its website, thus making them available to a worldwide audience. When necessary, the executive will engage with international colleagues to improve safety at fairgrounds and theme parks worldwide.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before the debate, I spoke to the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) about Florida, where there are safety belts in all water rides, wherever they may be. That might be a simple solution, but it is perhaps one way to ensure that what happened at Drayton Manor does not happen again.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

Indeed, the right hon. Member for Leicester East also mentioned other possible interventions that might have helped in this particular incident and might help in others. Indeed, on hearing about the incident I have formed a layperson’s view. One asks all sorts of questions, including about lifejackets in certain circumstances.

Keith Vaz Portrait Keith Vaz
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for the thoughtful and compassionate way in which she has responded to the debate. Does she have any indication of when the HSE will complete its report, because the inquest cannot take place until it is complete? We will then have an opportunity to look at changes that we might want to make.

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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am happy to keep the right hon. Gentleman informed about that. I cannot give him a timeline today for the HSE investigation. I have inquired about that, but the investigation will be led by the evidence, so I cannot give him an end date. I understand from what hon. Members have said that they are keen that any safety measures that could be introduced are introduced now. The process that I have outlined, and the methodical review of different but similar rides will, I hope, give some assurance on that front. There are other things that they have mentioned, and which may strike us as laypeople as common-sense things to introduce. It is, like many situations, a bit more complicated than that. In cases overseas, if people have been more restricted in a boat, that has impeded their escape after an accident.

We need to wait, having assured ourselves that the immediate checks have been done on similar rides, for the HSE report. As I have outlined, any recommendations that it makes to the industry will be disseminated widely. The executive is working as swiftly as it can to complete that report so that other parts of the investigation can move forward, which I appreciate is incredibly important to the family. I would add that the HSE has commissioned research into the risks presented by water rides of this nature, as well as the current philosophy on risk control and whether that needs to change.

I assure hon. Members that the HSE will ensure that lessons are learned from this tragic event and are acted on by the industry. In the interim, measures have been taken to ensure that other rides operate safely. I thank the right hon. Member for Leicester East for introducing the debate. As things progress, I stand ready, as does my Department, to assist him and his constituents.

Question put and agreed to.

Disability

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 20th April 2017

(7 years, 1 month ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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Extending the Motability lease (following reassessment from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP))

The Motability scheme plays a vital role in the lives of many disabled people and their families in supporting their mobility through the provision of a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. Motability has no role in determining who should receive disability living allowance or personal independence payment.

In September 2013, the charity put in place a transitional support package, which includes up to £2,000 as a lump sum for those disabled people who are not entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component of personal independence payment following reassessment from disability living allowance to personal independence payment in order to help them remain mobile.

Over the last few months, DWP and Motability have been working closely together to explore further ways of helping disabled people.

A key focus of this work has been how best to support Motability customers who are in the process of any reconsideration or appeal.

Today I am able to announce that Motability has kindly offered to enhance their disability living allowance-personal independence payment transitional support package to allow scheme customers to retain the car for up to eight weeks after their disability living allowance payments end, a significant increase from the three weeks they are allowed today.

In addition customers who are eligible for a transitional support payment will be able to retain their car for up to six months, including during the processes of reconsideration or appeal. For those who take advantage of this option, the level of transitional support payment will be reduced.

Once the full guidance for claimants is available, I will place a copy in the Library of the House.

PIP rapid reclaim

Currently, entitlement to personal independence payment ends after 13 weeks for most claimants when they go abroad. On returning to the UK they must make a new claim from scratch and may need to undergo a face-to-face assessment. We will shortly be implementing a new, rapid reclaim process that will enable eligible former personal independence payment claimants who are returning to the country to start receiving their personal independence payment payments much more quickly.

Eligible claimants will be those who:

were in receipt of personal independence payment prior to their absence abroad;

were out of the country for more than 13 weeks but returned within 12 months of when they left;

have not have reached their award review date of their previous claim (typically 12 months prior to the claim end date);

can confirm that their needs have not changed since before their absence abroad.

This new process will be implemented within the next two months. We estimate that eligible claimants will be able to access the benefit within two weeks of making a new claim on their return. By accessing financial support more quickly, where relevant, claimants will have faster access to the Motability scheme.

[HCWS603]

Long-term Health Problems and Work Outcomes

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 18th April 2017

(7 years, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall
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Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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Thank you, Mr Hollobone. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. I shall start standing, but will take you up on your kind offer if it becomes too much.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey) on securing this debate on a critical issue that faces the country, at an opportune moment, with the Green Paper consultation having just finished. I also thank the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill). We have had a lean but fit debate, and I thank them personally for their contributions.

As has been stated, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health published the “Improving Lives” Green Paper in October last year, to start a national discussion about how we can support more disabled people and people with health conditions to get into work, stay in work and have full and fulfilling careers. The consultation ended in February and we have received a huge response from a wide range of employers, disabled people, people with health conditions and organisations with an interest. I thank Members who held events during the consultation period, and healthcare professionals who have also responded. We are now taking stock of what we have heard and will decide the next steps on this important agenda.

In moving forward, we want to continue working with stakeholders—that includes employers—to build on those contributions to the debate and to keep the momentum going. It was always going to be tricky to give my hon. Friend satisfaction about exactly when a White Paper would appear; it is even more tricky bearing in mind announcements made earlier today. I can assure my hon. Friends that we want to seize the momentum that the Green Paper has built and bring forward a White Paper very swiftly. Work can continue outside of the civil service, in the private sector and the third sector, which will play a critical role in delivering the support. We want those organisations to continue thrashing out the issues so that we can arrive at a White Paper in good time.

Let me focus on the case for employer action. It is clear that there are compelling reasons for employers to take action on health and work. Employers who invest in inclusive workplaces and in the health and wellbeing of their staff can expect wider access to talent and skills, improved engagement and retention of employees and consequential gains for the performance and productivity of their businesses, reduced sickness absence and also reduced presenteeism, which is an issue, although it is not often spoken about. They will be more able to capitalise on the purple pound’s nearly £250 billion of spending power in this country because of the insight that their workforce will have.

Employers will increasingly need to help their employees remain healthy and manage their conditions if they are to benefit as much as possible from the skills and experience of our ageing population, which my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire referred to. Older people will make up an even greater part of the workforce in the future. In the next five years, it is estimated that the number of people aged 50 to 64 will increase by 800,000, while the number of people aged 16 to 49 will fall by about 300,000. We know that older workers bring great benefits to businesses by drawing on their knowledge, skills and experience, and can help businesses to remain competitive.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds spoke about cancer, which is becoming a chronic condition. Although we are living longer, we are living more years in ill health. There is clearly a correlation between our ageing population and the increased prevalence of long-term chronic conditions and multiple health issues, so this is an incredibly important agenda for the nation.

Jo Churchill Portrait Jo Churchill
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Cancer is often referred to as a generic, but various forms present very differently. The TUC has a great campaign called Dying to Work, which is driven by someone with metastatic cancer. They have a limited lifespan, but they want to carry on working. That is part of this agenda. If a person feels fit and able, whatever their condition, the Government should be doing all they can to encourage them.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend makes a very good point. Part of the importance of the Green Paper is that it tries to push the concept of work as a health outcome. Whatever someone’s circumstances, meaningful activity is a key part of keeping them healthy, and it benefits their emotional wellbeing.

We can already move forward with many of the things we trailed in the Green Paper. The one-stop shop will be not just a passive repository for Government information to support employers, but a shop window to the third sector and other organisations that can provide the expert, bespoke support that employers want. If, for example, a business has employed someone with autism, it will want expertise and expert advice, so we want to move forward with that immediately. The Disability Confident scheme is gathering pace, and there are many other things we can do to improve services, such as Access to Work.

On the issue of statutory sick pay and income protection, through the consultation we have been exploring how employers can actively promote health and wellbeing and manage sickness absence, including whether statutory sick pay should be reformed to better enable supportive consultations and a phased return to work. We also know that group income protection insurance, which offers preventive programmes, wellbeing services and income protection elements, can offer benefits and has the potential to help employers retain disabled employees and those with health conditions.

Analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research indicates that long-term absences among employees who have access to and use early intervention and rehabilitation services tend to be nearly 17% shorter than those among employees who do not. We want employers to do more to invest in their employees’ health and wellbeing, and thereby to reap the benefits that such investment brings. That includes actively considering whether group income protection could be part of the answer in promoting the health and wellbeing of their workforce. That was a key focus of the Green Paper, and we want to focus on it as we go forward.

We welcomed the responses to the consultation, in which we asked questions about the role the insurance sector should play in supporting the recruitment and retention of disabled people and people with health conditions. We also asked for feedback on the barriers and opportunities for employers of different sizes when adopting those insurance products for their staff. In particular, we asked why larger employers are not making better use of such protection schemes, and how take-up among SMEs in particular can be encouraged. We are now reviewing the full range of opinions expressed in the consultation, and we look forward to continuing to work with the industry to consider how those barriers can be overcome. We will consider what role the Government might play in reducing those barriers to take-up, and what the industry might need to do. We welcome offers to continue to work with the Government on these issues to encourage wider employer action to help employees stay in or return to work.

A number of health trials are going on at the moment, and we wish to run further trials with our innovation fund. Many of them touch on the incentives for employers to make the investments and follow good practice in their workplace. For example, one trial is introducing a wellbeing premium—a reduction in local business rates provided the business puts in place particular things to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of its staff.

As we explore what works and what is good practice for employers, we need to remember that we are already asking employers to do a lot. They have done a lot on pensions, and some of them are doing a lot on the apprenticeship levy. Those are really good things, and businesses clearly see the merits of investing in them. We must also bear in mind that we want employers to create jobs, so we have got to get the balance right. That is why I think this is one of the interesting parts of the Green Paper consultation and the White Paper that will follow.

It is important that any efforts to improve opportunities and outcomes for disabled people and those with long-term conditions also focus on mental health. Only one in three disabled people with a mental health condition is in employment, and 49% of the 2.4 million employment and support allowance claimants have a mental health condition as their primary condition.

In January, the Prime Minister announced the first steps in our plan to transform the way we deal with mental health problems at every stage of a person’s life—not just in our hospitals, but in our classrooms, at work and in our communities. An important strand of that plan is to support mental wellbeing in the workplace. That is why Dennis Stevenson, who has campaigned for a better evidence base for mental health for many years, and Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind, have been commissioned to review how employers can better support all employees, including those with mental ill health or poor wellbeing, to remain in and thrive through work. They are considering best practice across the full range of employers, and engaging with individuals with lived experience. They will present evidence and recommendations for employers and the Government to consider.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire made a point about measurement, which will clearly be a focus for us as we bring forward our ideas in the White Paper. Although we will continue to report the labour market statistics and look at the disability employment gap and other such numbers, we need locally driven solutions in health and employment services and education, so we need to focus on the current unmet need, whether in healthcare or employment support. By looking at the local numbers and getting local ownership so the different stakeholders can wrap support around the individual, we will get really good things to happen at a local level. That is what we need to enable and encourage—so expect some of those targets, which will look at the actual numbers, and formulas surrounding the disability employment gap. Once again, I thank my hon. Friend for securing this important debate and all hon. Members who took part in it.

Question put and agreed to.

Employment and Support Allowance

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 18th April 2017

(7 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt)
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I welcome the debate secured by the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray) and thank all Members who have attended and intervened on his speech. I shall concentrate my comments on the work-related activity group issue, which is at the heart of the debate. The hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) asked about measures to deal with the disability employment gap. Clearly, we are going through the Green Paper consultation responses, but we want to build on the momentum created on these issues and wish to bring forward a White Paper at the earliest opportunity. Additional working up of those ideas will be done with employers and the third sector, which will be able to continue the momentum.

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell
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I thank the Minister for dealing with that point, but does she not think that that should have been done before the cuts were made? Would that have been a logical approach, rather than making the cuts, leaving people destitute and devastated, and then thinking about how they are going to be helped?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The WRAG issue was debated heavily last year and voted on in the House. The measures that were put in place to provide additional support to that group, which I will go into in detail, were debated at the time and confirmed in the Green Paper. So the issue was mentioned in the Green Paper, but it had been consulted on extensively beforehand.

On the point about the industrial strategy, we are very much engaged with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and we are looking at what can be secured on this agenda from that strategy.

Help is available to enable people to live independent lives and ensure that those who can work have the opportunity to do so. This includes personal independence payments, the Access to Work scheme; local authority-provided social care support and aids and adaptations; NHS-provided aids; free prescriptions; free or discounted travel, for example to hospital appointments; the blue badge scheme; disabled students allowance; the disabled facilities grant; budgeting loans, cold weather payments through the social fund; and housing benefit. I shall not repeat the arguments that I made, as the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts has quoted me, but I will address some of the points on liquidity before moving on to his questions about the support package.

We have announced some additional funding for the flexible support fund in the coming years, which offers grants to support claimants with the associated costs of returning to work. Through the flexible support fund, Jobcentre Plus has a discretionary fund that is available to claimants. This includes barrier awards for individual claimants. Such awards could include travel and care costs to help people to attend training or the jobcentre itself. The funds can also be allocated to help claimants to move closer towards or into work—for example, for clothes to attend a job interview and start work, and much more. Each district manager is allocated a proportion of the national budget. There are very few national guidelines, and they have considerable freedom as to how to deploy the funds locally. This clearly helps with work and employment support-related costs.

As the hon. Gentleman will know, at Christmas we introduced a new procurement tool, which enables people quickly to purchase things, commission services and so on using the flexible support fund, so I take issue with the allegations he makes. Maybe the process has involved a lot of admin historically, but that is currently not the case.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray
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Will the Minister confirm whether the flexible support fund will be better directed towards recipients of ESA WRAG?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Yes. I will come to that point shortly. I also briefly mention the social fund, which can help with non-work-related costs.

We looked at several ways of potentially ring-fencing funds to this group, but in all cases we felt that it would be subject to legal challenge, so this is by far the simplest thing to do. We can monitor how this is being used and see where the money is going. The flexible support fund and the social fund are the only real route to be able supply additional funding to help people, whether that funding is cost-related to work and moving closer towards getting into work, or whether it is other costs associated with the cost of living.

We have also looked at what we can do to reduce a person’s outgoings. I thank my officials, who have done a huge amount of work with telecoms and energy suppliers to establish what support is on offer, and to encourage new offers and some low tariffs. That work has concluded and the Department for Work and Pensions will signpost claimants—not just WRAG claimants, but others—to services that help to reduce those costs. For example, tariffs are available, particularly to those on ESA, that package up broadband, phone and other costs at a low tariff of £10 a month.

When work coaches meet claimants, they will be able to offer signposting to services that help claimants with budgeting and saving money on household bills. That will be supported by a fact sheet that can be given to claimants. The fact sheet is already in operation and has been distributed through our operations arm. It is a one-stop shop that has all the information in one place, as well as signposting to local services. That is a big step forward. The leaflet, “ESA40”, which is sent to all ESA claimants at the beginning of their claim journey now includes a link to the Money Advice Service and its free support on saving money and household bills. This links into the work that the Department has been doing to follow on from the Extra Costs Commission, and it is a big step forward for the Department.

When ESA was introduced by Labour in 2008 as “a radical reform package”, the work-related activity component was intended to act as an incentive to encourage people to participate in work-related activity and, therefore, return to work quicker.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)
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I do not want to get the Minister up and down on her feet, but I refer her back to what she said about the additional support that will now be available. The Government’s own impact analysis estimated that half a million people would have £30 a week less—£1,500 a year less. What proportion of those 500,000 people will be in receipt of the additional support that her Department is making available, and to what extent?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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That very much depends on an individual’s circumstances. We have looked at a range of circumstances that someone might find themselves in—for example, someone who might need also to apply for PIP. We have looked at the time lag between someone, for example, coming on to being a new claimant for ESA and their actually being able to access that benefit. We have looked at a range of scenarios that someone might find themselves in. However, this support is available to anyone in that circumstance. Indeed, some of it is available to all claimants—for example, the social tariffs, which is a big step forward for the Department.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray
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The Minister stated in November:

“When that security—

that is, money and liquidity—

“goes, often so, too, does a person’s dignity and wellbeing.”—[Official Report, 17 November 2016; Vol. 617, c. 462.]

Is she therefore confident that the measures that she is putting in place, and the tariffs that are going to be available, will compensate people for this £50 a week?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I hope that what I have said, and what the hon. Gentleman has quoted me as saying in previous debates, at length, would give him some confidence that I really do understand that we have to do both things. We have to ensure that people are able to pay their bills. If we want them to focus on getting well and on moving closer to, or going back into, the workplace, then putting additional stresses on them is not remotely helpful. That is why we have undertaken this new work in the Department to see whether we can reduce someone’s outgoings, and why we have worked with our operations arm to ensure that this is not something that just sits in a drawer but is being offered to people. These budgeting conversations are happening. So yes, I am confident that this will be acted on throughout our Jobcentre Plus network, and we can monitor how progress is being made.

I mentioned the original intent of the work-related activity component in acting as an incentive. The hon. Gentleman will know that we have recently consulted on radical reform of the work capability assessment. As the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) mentioned, it is deeply flawed. We have had many consultation responses on that area, and it will be a major focus of the forthcoming White Paper.

I want to provide some reassurance about the additional support that will be in place, and is in place. All the support that is outlined in the Green Paper is currently in place. That includes recruiting 300 disability employment advisers; the capacity to have one-to-one health and work conversations with a Jobcentre Plus work coach to raise someone’s confidence and help them to manage their health condition; additional places on Work Choice and the work and health programme for all eligible and suitable claimants who wish to volunteer for it; additional places on our specialist employability support programme to support those, in particular, who are furthest away from the jobs market; increased funding for the access to work mental health support service to provide support for in-work claimants; jobcentres reaching out to small employers to identify opportunities and to help match people to jobs with the new small employment offer; and the community partners, who are now all recruited and in place.

Heidi Allen Portrait Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire) (Con)
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I am conscious that all the things I am hearing are excellent in terms of getting people into work, but so much of this £30 is about, for example, “Can I turn my heating on because I am in long-term recovery from cancer chemotherapy and I am at home a lot.” Would it be possible for the Department to give us some case studies so that we can see how the £30 is made up—what specific funds, whether a broadband deal or whatever it might be, are in place for Joe Bloggs? I know that the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field), has written to the Minister about this.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Yes. As I have said, in the work we have done we have tried to look at people who may be in different circumstances. They may have additional costs or there may be a gap between them and the ability to attain those costs. Clearly, the amount of benefits that someone might receive from the additional funds—whether they be in-work support, cost-of-living support or social tariffs—will depend on the individual, but we could certainly create some case studies. We could also, as time rolls on, give some real-life case studies of how this is working and how the flexible support fund and other provisions are being used.

We have recruited some very high calibre individuals to the multidisciplinary teams, including specialists in mental health and community support. We received more than 2,500 applications for those posts. Many other areas of support are available and I would be happy, although this is going ahead, to continue the dialogue with colleagues who may still have concerns.

Question put and agreed to.