People in receipt of Incapacity
41. People with disabilities are about seven times
more likely to be out of work and claiming benefits than non-disabled
people: 2.7 million long-term disabled people were out of work
and receiving benefits compared to 1.6 million other people. Yet
of this 2.7 million out of work and on benefit, 1.1 million say
they would like to work now or in the future.
The Government has introduced various measures aimed at assisting
people with longstanding impairment or illness who want to work
to do so. Measures include Incapacity Benefit changes designed
to reduce the financial disincentives to work; a new 'Capability
Report' designed to provide work-focused information about clients'
conditions and impairments; and the introduction of the New Deal
for Disabled People, which offers job-broking help to disabled
people who want to work.
42. The question of how to support more sick or disabled
people into work is a large one and beyond the scope of this Report.
However, our inquiry into the work of the ONE pilots has highlighted
some key problem areas which need to be addressed.
43. First, as discussed above, Personal Advisers
find it difficult to have a conversation about work with people
who are sick or disabled.
We are pleased to note that, within Jobcentre Plus, more effort
is being made to increase disability awareness among Personal
Advisers. But as
our recommendation above
makes clear, we have concluded that Personal Advisers also need
more specific skills training to discuss work in a positive and
constructive way with such clients. Mr Leigh Lewis, Chief Executive
of Jobcentre Plus, told us it was not realistic to expect a Personal
Adviser to be able to cope personally with every conceivable disability
problem which any individual may have. He thought it was important
that Personal Advisers knew the point at which they should refer
people either to Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) or to the
New Deal for Disabled People.
Disability Employment Advisers work as part of Disability Service
Teams, around 50 of which currently operate within the Employment
Service. Alongside Occupational Pyschologists, they provide work-related
assessment guidance and help assist disabled people to access
or retain employment. We recommend that the Department publish
its plans for how the Disability Service Teams will work within
Jobcentre Plus, including the role of DEAs in relation to the
work of 'front line' Personal Advisers.
44. Second, little use is being made in the ONE pilot
areas of Capability Reports. The Capability Report was a new innovation,
introduced in ONE pilot areas in November 1999. The report is
intended to be work-focused and is designed to identify what labour
market activities the person might be capable of, despite their
health problems or disabilities. A Capability Report is automatically
completed in the ONE pilot areas for all Incapacity Benefit claimants
who are called for a medical examination (called a Personal Capability
Assessment (PCA)). New research from the DWP
shows that there was low awareness and understanding among ONE
Personal Advisers about the purpose of the Capability Report,
and how it was produced. Little training or guidance had been
given to Advisers or managers on how the Capability Report should
be used. Although Incapacity Benefit claimants were required to
attend a Personal Adviser meeting following a PCA, in practice
these interviews were frequently deferred by Advisers. Since the
research report was completed, both the ONE pilots and Jobcentre
Plus have taken steps to improve training and guidance, and to
stop deferrals of mandatory interviews following a PCA. It
is very disappointing that the Capability Report has so far failed
as an effective tool to assist claimants and advisers in discussing
work capabilities. We recommend that the Government publish the
steps it intends to take, in the light of the evaluation report
it commissioned, to ensure that Capability Reports are practical
and useful documents for claimants and their employment advisers.
45. A third and very fundamental issue was highlighted
by the DWP research on Capability Reports. This was the attitude
of ONE Personal Advisers to Incapacity Benefit clients. Although
the intended role of the Personal Adviser was to work with a variety
of clients giving work-focused advice tailored to their needs,
in practice Advisers felt that the ONE pilots were driven by placement
targets. The research found that, "rather than being able
to help all clients in their move towards the labour market, the
main priority was to meet given targets for placing clients on
Jobseeker's Allowance into jobs."
As a result, Personal Advisers generally caseloaded very few,
if any, clients on Incapacity Benefit.
The issue of targets, and the extent to which they drive behaviour,
is discussed below. The reluctance to caseload Incapacity Benefit
claimants also stemmed, said the researchers, from the belief,
discussed above, that it was intrusive to discuss the idea of
work, and also from the view that, to assist such people, intensive
activity would be required to address the significant barriers
which people would have. Advisers felt they did not have the skills
to do such work.
46. The failure of Personal Advisers to engage
with Incapacity Benefit clients is a major shortcoming of the
ONE pilots. The solution lies partly in ensuring that Personal
Advisers are given sufficient time for caseloading activities;
partly in ensuring that targets are set which give incentives
to Advisers to work with long-term sick and disabled clients;
and partly in building up specialist support services to which
Personal Advisers can refer claimants. But it also lies in giving
Advisers the proper training - in motivating people and
in confidence building - for them to begin to engage with this
47. A fourth issue concerns the arrangements for
caseloading Incapacity Benefit clients within Jobcentre Plus.
The DWP told us that for Incapacity Benefit clients within Jobcentre
Plus "caseloading will generally be through New Deal for
Disabled People Job Brokers."
The implication is that Personal Advisers themselves will not
generally have Incapacity Benefit claimants as part of their caseloads.
We are concerned by this approach. It is clear that many people
who have experienced long-term poor health lack confidence and
motivation when it comes to re-engaging with the world of work.
They need a good deal of support and encouragement to begin to
take steps towards employment. New Deal for Disabled People Job
Brokers are primarily focused on achieving sustainable job placements.
But a first step towards work might be voluntary work, a part-time
job lasting only a few hours per week, or training. We consider
that within Jobcentre Plus caseloading should be used to work
with Incapacity Benefit clients to build confidence and motivation
and to assist them to begin to take steps towards employment.