Work and Pensions Committee

Publisher: 
Parliament
Topics: 
Disability, Disability employment gap, Work and Pensions Committee
Year of Publication: 
2016
Type: 
Report

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the Government’s commitment to halve the "disability employment gap" – the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people. The inquiry will assesses the scale of the challenge and the likely effectiveness of the Government’s employment support and benefit policies in achieving this goal.

The Work and Pensions Committee has warned of potential “disastrous” consequences for disabled people, including disabled children, and the services that support them in the transition to Universal Credit as currently planned.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said: 

The Work and Pensions Committee has published its report on the use of benefit sanctions. It is highly critical of the sanctions regime, arging that there is no evidence for its effectiveness and that instead it places vulnerable people at risk.

The Work and Pensions Committee has published its review of Universal Support, the programme of support available to claimants of Universal Credit.

It says the Government "must not proceed" with moving existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit until "a new, flexible, discretionary approach to debt management, drawing on best practice in the retail sector" is in place - and working. The Department is currently planning to start moving claimants over from mid-2019. 

The Work and Pensions Committee has published the government response to its report on Assistive Technology

Before the inquiry concluded, the Government announced a major positive change in dropping the planned cap on Access to Work payments, and has since announced a new Tech Fund that means employers do not have to contribute to the costs of acquiring AT to adapt the workplace - removing a big potential barrier. 

The Work and Pensions Committee has published the Government's response to its inquiries into Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

The Work and Pensions committee has called on the Government to do more to promote the use of assistive technology (AT) to help more disabled people into work. Its report says it can help to close the disability employment gap and improve national productivity.

The report details how the technology can greatly help the employment prospects of people currently claiming benefits, and help them to control their home environments when it is integrated with computers, phones and gadgets.

The Work and Pensions Committee has announced a new inquiry into benefit sanctions: how they operate, recent developments, and what the evidence is that they work - either to deter non-compliant behaviour or to help achieve the policy objectives of getting people off benefits and into work.

The inquiry will look at recent sanctions policy developments, like the "yellow card" system which gives claimants 14 days to challenge a decision to impose a sanction before it is put into effect. The system was announced in late 2015 although there is still no date for introducing it.  

The Work and Pensions Committee is looking at the future of the European Social Fund within the context of Brexit. A one-off oral evidence session was held on 28 February and participants discussed a wide range of issues including the demographic and geographic targeting of funds, how support is commissioned and linkages to wider policy initiatives. The hearing also discussed the level of flexibility and bureaucracy within the administration of the European Social Fund.

The Work and Pensions Committee has published its report looking into how PIP (Personal Independence Payments) and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) assessments are conducted. The report says public contract failures have led to a loss of trust that risks undermining the operation of major disability benefits.

The decision to contract out PIP and ESA assessments in the first instance was taken to introduce efficient, consistent and objective tests for benefit eligibility. 

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