Diagnostic tool to exclude jobseekers with learning disabilities?

DWP documents posted on the Bravo Solution website seem to confirm that the new Work and Health Programme (WHP) will only cater for those jobseekers who are considered close to the labour market. BASE is disappointed by the tone of the document which seeks to identify a tool that will categorise people into one of 4 groups:

  1. Willing and able to work
  2. Willing but not able to work
  3. Unwilling but able to work
  4. Unwilling and not able to work

The report states that “The budget for the programme is considerably less than its predecessors (such as Work Programme and Work Choice), and so DWP needs to ensure that only those claimants who can benefit the most from this provision are referred to it. Taking this together with ministerial priorities, the WHP aims to target those claimants with health conditions and the long term unemployed… To ensure that we refer the correct claimants, we need to develop an effective tool to identify them.” BASE would like to work with DWP to capture the spirit of the recommendations without the negative connotations of using classifications such as "not able". For the many individuals for which the WHP may not be appropriate, BASE will continue to work with DWP to facilitate the use of the Supported Employment model as an alternative approach. However BASE would like to establish what the phrases "not able to work" and "furthest from entering employment" mean to DWP in practice and how these judgements are reached. We fear there is a risk that those with the most significant disabilities will be automatically categorised as “willing but not able to work” and deemed ineligible for WHP and other programmes. This would effectively be a judgement on the capability and capacity of the programme to meet individual needs rather than a considered assessment of the ability of the individual to work. Many people with learning disabilities and autism conditions are very motivated to work and simply require the support of trained job coaches to learn vocational tasks. There is no reason why Work Choice could not support people with learning disabilities into sustainable work - many providers achieved good outcomes for this customer group - and there is no reason why the Work and Health Programme should not be able to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities. Restricting access to the new Work and Health Programme raises questions about the Government’s commitment to equality under Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which calls on member states to “promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment”