NAO report on DWP's disability employment support

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report 'Supporting Disabled People into Work' on how the Department for Work and Pensions supports people with a disability into work. BASE supported the NAO's work on the report and we will be commenting on the content soon.

The report is about the Department’s support to help disabled people overcome barriers to work. It examines the Department’s:

  • strategy, working across government, for supporting disabled people to work, and what is currently being achieved (Part One);
  • employment support programmes for disabled people and its approach to developing the evidence base (Part Two); and
  • efforts to improve the way it engages with disabled people in jobcentres (Part Three).

It does not cover how disabled people access, or are incentivised to work by, the benefit system.   


Report conclusions

The Department has recognised that it does not understand enough to frame a full implementation strategy for helping more disabled people to work. It is positive that it is making an effort to improve disabled people’s experience when they enter a jobcentre. It is also positive that it is starting to work more closely with the Department of Health & Social Care to improve the evidence base of what works. And it is positive that there has been recent growth in the number of disabled people in work. However, neither we nor the Department can tell how much of the improvement is a function of changes in how people already in work report disability, ‘all boats rising with the tide’ of high employment, or its actions to support more disabled people to work.

Given the Department has had programmes in place to support disabled people for over half a century, it is disappointing that it is not further ahead in knowing what works and that it lacks a target that it is willing to be held to account for. While the commitment to gathering evidence is welcome, until it has a clear understanding of what works, and a plan to use that evidence, it is not possible to say the Department is achieving value for money.