Select Committee on Work and Pensions Minutes of Evidence


Returning/getting disabled people into work

  The commonsense argument may be readily acceptable in principle but presumably will not be treated seriously by Treasury unless there is hard evidence to back it up.

  There are different possible ways to try to show that overall investment in return-to-work programmes is economically cost-effective in terms of the social and financial gains of disabled people working, and thereby influence the argument that greater investment is required. For example:

    —  Count all the benefits, divide by number of beneficiaries, as above

    —  Demonstrate through anonymised case studies the cost-effectiveness of returning individuals to work (ie a range of examples)

    —  Demonstrate the return on each £ of investment given to Shaw Trust through an example programme eg Job Broking

  1.  Work to support the first approach is complicated by the lack of available disaggregated statistics. There is no way to separately assess numbers because the same disabled people are counted in different benefit costs. As a result it is almost impossible to determine accurately the average benefit cost of keeping disabled people out of work. At present therefore, it seems only to be a crude measure and risks being dismissed because of its easy defeasibility or the difficult of arriving at anything like a proof.

  (NB: Shaw Trust is working with The NAfW to start the process of disaggregating disability relevant statistics in Wales, which should give numbers to be tested against populations in the second stage of the research. First stage of this research is expected end 2002. This work should provide good indicators for other parts of GB and is certainly a model expected to be replicable.)

  2.  Research expected to take least time. The argument would focus on examples of what it costs to keep X, Y and Z disabled individuals out of work, what it costs to return them to work and the individual cost benefits.

  Has the merit of being quick to return, not dependent on any national average, and relating to real people's lives. (If any individuals were willing to allow their names to be used we could personalise their stories to maximum PR effect.)

  Longer-term research in 1 to continue in parallel, because so much can be learned along the way, and we may get the final proof we prefer.

  3.  This is a piece of research which could make the same argument in an extremely powerful way to Treasury, from a slightly different angle: eg government programmes fund ST and £ for £ the programmes save £+ (say £1.40 per £ for argument's sake) and what's more, the overall benefit to the community is £++ (let's say £4.20 per £).

  (This another medium-to long-term piece of research requiring commissioning.)

  4.  Returning (or getting) disabled people into the labour market is a model of wider economic regeneration. The essence of the argument is simple enough:

    —  disabled person P is in receipt of £x of intervention ( x = disability-related benefits; social services; health services; caring (family/friends/Personal support workers/other; other benefits (housing, etc))

    —  if returned/entered into the labour market P stops or significantly reduces benefit uptake; use of social services intervention; health services (somewhere i have been hearing that people (disabled or not) who are in work are healthier/ use fewer HS resources; a range of people providing support are freed to work themselves (or work elsewhere); dependence on other income-related benefits is stopped/reduced

    —  the disabled person also becomes a taxpayer

  Overall, it seems impossible to argue that keeping disabled people who want to work out of work makes any economic sense at all. The assertion that it is better for the economy (at least, as measured in crude aggregate GDP terms) to have people in paid work—disabled or not—rather than not in work is true, virtually by definition of GDP.

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Prepared 13 June 2002