Letter from Esther McVey, dated 17th Nov 2012 replying to http://misplacedmarbles.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/dear-esther-mcvey.html
Thank you for your e-mail of 12 October regarding support for disabled people.
Thank you for your comments on the difficulty of ensuring the right support is in place for disabled people to work. I agree that it is important to make sure that the right support is in place, ensuring the job is suitable for the individual.
Access to Work is a specialist disability programme delivered by this Department, providing practical advice and support to disabled people and their employers, helping them overcome work-related obstacles, resulting from their disability. Access to Work funds the support that is beyond what an employer should provide, as reasonable adjustments.
To ensure the right support is in place, the Access to Work process includes an assessment of the applicant's needs; carried out in their workplace. I agree that it is also important to ensure that the job is suitable for the individual, to help achieve this, the scope of activity that Access to Work funding can support has recently been expanded to include people taking part in a Work Trial arranged by Jobcentre Plus, and young people gaining Work Experience as part of the Youth Contract.
I should add that throughout the process of Disability Living Allowance reform, we have consulted extensively with disabled people and disabled people's organisations.
This includes formal consultations earlier this year on the second draft of the Personal Independence Payment assessment criteria, and the detailed rules that will underpin the new benefit. We received a total of 2,600 responses to our consultations and are now carefully considering these responses.
While I am not able at this stage to reveal the contents of any discussions or submissions from any of the organisations that responded, I can tell you that the Government intends to publish its responses to the consultations later this year, once our considerations are complete. We will also be publishing organisations' responses to the consultations.
I understand you took the opportunity to share your views with us on our proposals by participating in our consultation activity, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for that. As you may be aware, more information about Personal Independence Payment can be found on our website at www.dwp.gov.uk/pip.
Furthermore, disabled people have been telling Governments for some years that media tends to highlight the negative and these types of stories are used to affirm some people's prejudices about disabled people. This is not a new issue.
However this Government fully accepts that whilst laws are in place to ensure equality, we need to work together and do more to challenge and change negative attitudes towards disabled people.
That is why we are currently developing our new "Disability Strategy" - which focuses on the responses of thousands of disabled people who gave their views to our "Fulfilling Potential" consultation over the summer.
One of the key areas of the Strategy looks at is promoting positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people and tackling discrimination and harassment wherever they occur. We received over 2,200 comments which related to this theme.
Suggestions include the Government benchmarking attitudes in order to properly understand how to make changes over the long-term; producing and launching a media guide for journalists; and training for frontline Government staff to embed disability issues at the start of the policy-making process.
To help deliver the Strategy, we are carry forward ideas proposed by disabled people themselves and we are now setting up a new Disability Action Alliance.
Convened by Disability Rights UK and supported by the Office for Disability Issues, the alliance will join forces with private sector and public sector organisations to help change attitudes and create "inclusive communities" around the country.
Finally, the Department's press office operates a "24/7" service so there is always someone available to help explain the statistics to journalists and help ensure accurate reporting.
I hope this reply explains the position.
Esther Mcvey MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Disabled People.