As part of the Government's commitment to helping disabled people, Work Choice, the employment program for those with severe disabilities, is launched by the Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller today. It is expected to support around 23,000 severely disabled people each year - more than any of its predecessor Government program.
This is an important part of the Government's ongoing commitment to disabled people and ensuring they have the same opportunities and chances as everyone else.
Across the country the help previously available has been patchy and fragmented with over 200 separate contracts. Work Choice will operate more efficiently, with just 28 contracts with Prime Providers.
The program is available on a voluntary basis, and open to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria. It will sit alongside the new Work Program which becomes available early next year.
Work Choice, which has been developed in close consultation with disability groups and disabled people, will greatly improve the effectiveness of current programs by tailoring support to the needs of each person to help them find employment and then progress and stay in work.
Providers will also have the flexibility to agree with the customer what kind of support they need. This can include help with CV writing and applying for jobs. It can also progress to supporting people as they get used to going to work and will offer coaching in specific tasks as well as working with employers and co-workers to teach them how to adapt tasks so that a disabled person can continue to be employed.
Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People said:
"We must remove the barriers disabled people face to getting into mainstream employment. It is right that everyone has the opportunity to compete in the job market.
"Work is the best way out of poverty and we know over 1 million disabled people currently on benefits want to work. We must give people the support they need to do this.
"Work Choice will ensure people facing the biggest barriers to work get the intensive support they need."
1 From 25th October 2010, Work Choice will replace the current suite of specialist disability employment programs (i.e. Work Preparation, WORKSTEP and the Job Introduction scheme). It will provide customers with severe disabilities and more complex support needs with a seamless service covering all stages of the journey into work:
Module One - finding a job and preparing to enter work,
Module Two - short to medium-term in-work support or longer-term supported employment, and
Ultimately progression into open unsupported employment, where it is appropriate for the individual.
2 Customers can join the program at different points depending on their needs. Module one provides pre-work support; module two provides supported employment lasting up to two years; module three is for customers requiring longer-term support to sustain their job.
3 Contracts have been awarded to the following prime providers across 28 Contract Package Areas (CPAs) in England, Scotland and Wales:
The Pluss Organization
Advance Housing and Support
Ingeus UK Ltd
CDG-WISE Ability Ltd
It will also be delivered by Remploy Employment Service in 24 CPAs across England, Scotland and Wales.
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