Green Paper set to include trials and consultations

The Government will publish it's Green Paper on disability, work and health this afternoon (31 October) at around 4.30pm.

The plans proposed today include:
* a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP fit notes to support workers back into their jobs faster, and for longer
* encouraging Jobcentre Plus work coaches to signpost claimants to therapy
* the launch of a consultation on Work Capability Assessment reform
* encouraging employers to work with their employees with long-term health conditions to stop them from falling out of work
* a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome
* Statutory Sick Pay will be reviewed so it better encourages supportive conversations and phased returns to work.

Consideration is also being given to extending fit notes from doctors to other healthcare professionals to help ensure people receive more tailored support.

The Green Paper announced by the government today includes:
* the creation of a Disability Confident Business Leaders Group to work alongside Ministers and officials to increase employer engagement around disabled employment, starting with FTSE 250 companies
* a consultation on the Work Capability Assessment, the process for assessing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit claimants’ capability for work – the proposals would put an end to the binary ‘can work/can’t work’ groups
* developing large scale trials on how health-led services and support can help get disabled people and those with long-term conditions back into work – with a specific focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions
* working with Health Education England, Public Health England and others to make the benefits of work an ingrained part of the training and health workforce approach

The Green Paper also includes a new Personal Support Package. This includes:
* a new Health and Work Conversation between new people on ESA and their work coach, focusing on what they can do rather than what they cannot
recruiting around 200 Community Partners into Jobcentre Plus, including expertise from the voluntary sector
* a trial voluntary work experience programme for young people with limited capability for work, enabling them to benefit from experience with a mainstream employer to build confidence and skills, enhance their CV and demonstrate their ability to perform a role
* extending ‘Journey to Employment’ job clubs to 71 Jobcentre Plus areas with the highest number of people receiving ESA with limited capability for work

It seems that some have seen preview copies and we would support the comments made by the Learning and Work Institute:

Learning and Work Institute have highlighted the following specific concerns:

* On current plans, the ‘Work-Related Activity Group’ in Employment and Support Allowance will only get 88 minutes of Jobcentre Plus work coach time per year – 10 minutes a month. This isn't enough.
* The Work Related Activity Group only make up one-third of ESA claimants who have had their claim assessed. For the other two-thirds – called the ‘Support Group’ – there is no funding for work coach support at all. This needs to be addressed.
* The Work and Health Programme recently announced as its replacement for the Work Programme and Work Choice, is over 80% smaller than the programmes that it replaced. On a like-for-like basis, we estimate that employment support for disabled people will fall by around 55%.
* We estimate that this would increase disability employment by at most 85,000 over this Parliament. We need to increase funding for employment support, alongside reforms to reinvest the savings in health and benefits bills from supporting more people into work.
* Plans to improve how services work together are welcome, but these have been the subject of reviews and consultations for more than a decade. We need a partnership between government, local areas, health services and employers – with new outcome agreements – to integrate support and achieve a step change

Stephen Evans added: “We're pleased this is a Green Paper meaning that it is open to public consultation – there are positive moves and the consultation gives scope to make sure action meets ambition.”