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Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware of the valuable role that the Motability scheme plays in enabling severely disabled people to travel to and from work, and that, for them, having a job may well depend upon having such transport arrangements?
Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, anything that my noble friend can do to help disabled people with cars will be greatly appreciated. But, for those without cars who rely upon public transport, can my noble friend tell us what discussions the Government have had with the bus and rail companies with a view to making their services accessible to disabled people? If there were any discussions and such discussions were fruitless, will the Government consider applying pressure on these organisations?
Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, with the new idea of stopping private cars coming into city centres and allowing in only public transport, will special consideration be given to disabled people to allow them to bring in their adapted cars? Otherwise, they will be at a loss.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, it is customary that where, for example, only public transport and taxis are permitted on streets people with, if not orange, then at least green disability badges are also permitted. However, I shall write to the noble Baroness and try to give her the assurance that she seeks.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, Motability cars are available primarily for those who have a long-term impairment and are therefore eligible for the mobility higher allowance. One of the good pieces of news which I am sure your Lordships will welcome is that in the proposed welfare reform Bill we will extend mobility payments to children aged three and four so that when those children who have heavy equipment, like polio equipment and so on, need access, their parents will be able to join the Motability scheme. But Motability is designed essentially for people who have long-term mobility problems.
Lord Sterling of Plaistow: My Lords, perhaps I may take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind words. There are many people present who have been involved. The scheme started under the government of the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan. A very key person--a splendid man--was the late Lord Ennals. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis of Heigham, in her former role, the noble Lord, Lord Newton of Braintree, and of course the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, have all played a role. As the late Lord Goodman himself said--
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I very much welcome the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Sterling. It is certainly true that when one has a disabled person one very often has a disabled family. The disability is borne by all members of the family, as many noble Lords will know. The mobility scheme, extended with the introduction of DLA in 1992, and Motability cars have given disabled people independence so that they are no longer continually dependent on being looked after by members of their family, however generously and gracefully that service has been offered. It has been a major transformation for disabled people to have the independence that most of us here today take for granted.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the success of the New Deal over the past 18 months which she has just very properly enunciated is to be not only warmly welcomed but further developed? Can she say what percentage of the companies that have signed up to the scheme have recruited young people? Secondly, what is the percentage of participants who have dropped out, having exercised an option?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I cannot answer my noble friend's first question but I shall certainly write to him. I am grateful to him for welcoming the programme. It is a very important scheme in terms of supporting unemployed young people, getting them back into jobs and providing them with further education and training. There are drop-out rates from the New Deal. Again, I shall have to give my noble friend the precise statistics by writing to him. The Government are monitoring
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, when a young person does not turn up for a New Deal interview, he or she is re-invited and given a second chance. The sanctions for refusing to participate in the New Deal when a young person has been unemployed for six months is that they lose their benefit. However, I shall have to write to the noble Lord with the precise percentage.
Lord Mason of Barnsley: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the option for self-employment is now an extra dimension within the New Deal and that that aspect of its activities is linked to the Prince's Youth Business Trust, of which I am chairman in South Yorkshire? Applications are now starting to come through, enabling the Prince's Youth Business Trust to take more people off the dole and launch them into their new businesses. Can she expand a little on that activity within the New Deal?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the Government are enormously grateful to the Prince's Youth Business Trust for its involvement in the New Deal. We are all very much aware of the work that my noble friend has put in. The New Deal for young unemployed people, and indeed those over 25, is fully operational in Barnsley and the South Yorkshire area. The Government want to hear more about particular good practice in relation to the self-employed and would want to disseminate information that can be provided about what is happening in South Yorkshire, and in Barnsley in particular, in respect of the self-employed.
Lord Tope: My Lords, can the Minister tell us the average cost of the three main options other than subsidised employment? Is she aware that on 18th May one of my honourable friends in another place was told that the average cost was about £4,000 and that on 17th November my honourable friend Don Foster was told that it was £2,600? Can she explain this apparent 35 per cent. cut?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the latest figure I have been given is rather different from either of those given by the noble Lord. Contrary to the rather, if I may say so, cynical fabrication and distortion in the CPS pamphlet, where the costs quoted were very far from
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