CHAPTER 13 People with a disability
Entry to the New Deal for people aged 18-24 or 25+
Although the Government has introduced a number of new programmes for people claiming Incapacity Benefit, the New Deals for 18–24 year olds and for people aged 25+ are also open to people with a disability.
People aged under 25 with a disability are able to join the New Deal for 18–24 year olds from the first day of unemployment (NDPG (18-24), Ch 2, para 10). Older disabled people can have early access to the New Deal for those aged 25+ (NDPG (25+), para 7). However, to qualify for these New Deals you must be signing on for JSA or for National Insurance contribution credits (NDPG (18-24), Ch 2, para 10).
Who is treated as disabled?
For the purposes of eligibility for early access to the New Deals for 18–24 year olds and for people aged 25+, you should be treated as having a disability if you are covered by the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (NDPG (18-24), Ch 2, Appen 1, para 4; NDPG (25+), Ch 2, Appen 1, para 5).
You are covered by the Act if you have "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [your] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". While the definition of disability used under the old legislation for the registration of disabled persons was based on being at a disadvantage in obtaining or keeping employment, the new definition is based on the effects of your disability on everyday activities.
Some points worth noting about the Disability Discrimination Act definition are (ES Circ 400/9):
- The effects of your impairment must be "long-term", i.e. they must have lasted 12 months or be expected to last 12 months.
- The definition is based on "normal day-to-day activities" within a prescribed list of categories included in the Act. If your employment activities are affected, you are not covered unless your normal day-to-day activities are affected too. "Normal" means what is normal for most people, not just for you.
- If you have a severe disfigurement you are covered. Provided the effect is long-term, you do not have to show that it has a substantial effect on normal day-to-day activities.
- If you have a progressive condition you are covered as soon as the condition results in an impairment which creates an effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The condition must be long-term, but the effects need not be continuous or substantial.
- If your condition is improved by medical treatment, that improvement is not taken into account when considering whether you are disabled. Examples are taking regular medication to control epilepsy, diabetes or mental illness, or using a wheelchair or an artificial limb (but the improvement from spectacles or contact lenses is taken into account).
- The effects of recurring conditions are taken into account when considering if the condition is long-term.
- The cumulative effects of impairments are taken into account when considering whether the overall effects on normal day-to-day activities is substantial.
- Certain conditions are excluded from the definition. The main ones are addiction (other than addiction to medically prescribed drugs), seasonal allergic rhinitis (e.g. hayfever), and tattoos and piercing. If you have one of these conditions you can still be classed as disabled due to another condition. This applies even if that condition has arisen as a result of one of the excluded conditions. For example, someone who gets liver disease due to alcohol dependency could be covered by the Act.
You are also covered by the provisions of the Act if, at any time in the past, you have had a disability which is covered by the Act (whether registered disabled or not).
Note that your eligibility for protection under the Disability Discrimination Act can be established only by a court or tribunal. If there is a dispute about whether or not you are disabled you will be able to make a complaint to a court or tribunal. In other words, a legal decision as to whether your disability is covered by the Act "will be made only if a dispute arises" (ES Circ 400/9, para 19).
The Government produces a series of free booklets about the Disability Discrimination Act (also available in Braille and on audio cassette) which you can get by phoning 0345 622 633 or, if you have a textphone, 0345 622 644.
How will your disability be assessed?
Under the Disability Discrimination Act the ES no longer has the power to determine who is legally considered to have a disability. Instead the ES now treats people as disabled if they would be likely to meet the Disability Discrimination Act definition in a tribunal or court.
Staff are told to "treat [you] as disabled if it seems more likely than not that [you] would meet the Disability Discrimination Act definition" (ES Circ 400/9, para 29). ES guidance says that "most existing [pre-Disability Discrimination Act] disabled ES jobseekers will meet the new definition" (ES Circ 400/9, para 30). The reason for this is that if you are having problems at work because of your medical condition it is likely you will also have significant problems in carrying out normal day-to-day activities.
The guidance states that "in most instances … it will be easy to tell whether a medical condition creates substantial problems for people in carrying out normal day-to-day activities, without the need for extensive questioning or medical advice"(ES Circ 400/9, para 27).
In most cases, frontline staff or mainstream advisers in your local Jobcentre should be able to decide whether or not to classify you as disabled. If you want early access to the New Deal on the basis of having a health problem or disability then you may be given a form (ND5) which asks you "to self-declare details about [your] health or disability" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 2, Appen 1, para 5). If there is a doubt about whether or not to classify you as disabled you may be referred to a disability employment adviser who will make a decision.
Should you join the New Deal?
There are two factors you should consider carefully if you are thinking of voluntarily joining either the New Deal for 18-24 year olds or the New Deal for those aged 25+:
- If you are currently claiming Incapacity Benefit or Income Support with the disability premium, then in order to enter the New Deal you will have to cease claiming your current benefit and sign on for JSA instead. You should be careful when doing so because, in order to sign on for JSA, you must declare yourself capable of work. This will probably disqualify you from subsequently returning to Incapacity Benefit. Participation on a New Deal option may also be taken as evidence that you are capable of work.
- Although early entry to either of the New Deals is entirely voluntary, once you enter the programme you will be required to attend one of the New Deal options and will face benefit sanctions if you refuse or leave early without good cause.
Specific provisions for people with a disability
If you join either the New Deal for 18–24 year olds or the New Deal for those aged 25+, there are some specific provisions for people with a disability:
- If, during the Gateway, ES staff believe that you need specialist advice and support related to your disability, you may be referred to an organisation which provides such a service (e.g. a voluntary sector disability group) (NDPG (25+), Ch 1, para 7).
- You may also be referred to an ES disability employment adviser. These are people who work in the ES providing specialist help and advice to people with a disability (see the Unemployment and Training Rights Handbook). If you are accepted on to the caseload of a disability employment adviser, then this adviser is likely to act as your ES New Deal personal adviser when you start on the New Deal (NDPG (18-24), Ch 3, para 11; NDPG (25+), Ch 1, para 7).
- You may be offered support from a mentor (see page *).
- Under the JSA rules, you "may restrict [your] availability [for work] in any way providing the restrictions are reasonable in the light of [your] physical or mental condition" (JSA Regs, reg 13(3)). This means that, unlike people without a disability, you can restrict the hours that you are available for work each week to less than 40 hours. There is no specified minimum number of hours for which people with a disability or health problem must be available. If you restrict the hours of work for which you are available under JSA, then you can go into part-time work under the New Deal Employment option and still attract the full £60 subsidy (NDPG (18-24), Ch 5, para 6e), or £75 subsidy (NDPG (25+), Ch 1, para 7).
- If you find that an option is unsuitable because of your disability, this should be accepted as "good cause" for leaving the option. To demonstrate good cause you will have to show that "you have a physical or mental health problem which would prevent you attending or put at risk your health or the health of others on the [New Deal option]" (see Chapter 9). If you leave an option for this reason "the ES personal adviser will work with [you] to arrange an alternative placement".
New Deal for Disabled People
The New Deal for Disabled People was introduced during 1998 and is jointly run by the DfEE and DSS. Designed for those who have a disability or long- term sickness, it is significantly different to the New Deals for 18-24 year olds or for the older long-term unemployed:
- It is targeted to help people who are receiving benefits that do not require them to be available for work or to seek work – namely Incapacity Benefit, Income Support due to incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance.
- It is not a national programme but a series of geographically specific initiatives.
- It is designed to test a range of options to find out the most effective means of helping people with a disability or long-term illness back to work.
The New Deal for Disabled People consists of three strands:
- personal adviser/caseworker initiatives
- innovative pilot projects
- an information campaign.
Twelve Benefit Agency districts – which cover nearly 250,000 people on incapacity benefits – have been identified for personal adviser pilots.
Personal advisers will provide tailored assistance to disabled people who wish to move into work and to those who need help in keeping their job, having developed a long-term sickness or disability (NDDP/PA Guide, para 6). They will also seek to influence employers’ recruitment and retention policies through local partnerships. The first six pilots, which are being run by the ES, started in September 1998. These are in:
- Eastern Valleys (Wales)
- Central Sussex
- Bristol East and Bath.
These six areas – which were chosen to include a range of urban and rural labour markets with varying levels of incapacity and unemployment – are estimated to cover a potential client group of 158,000 people.
The second round of bidders was announced in February 1999 and contracts have been awarded to a mixture of agencies in the statutory, private and voluntary sectors:
City of York Council
East Mercia (Boston, Kings Lynn, Skegness)
Westcountry Training and Consultancy Service
If you are currently receiving one of the relevant benefits, you will receive a letter and explanatory leaflet inviting you to attend an introductory interview. However, it will take some time to schedule interviews for all current benefit claimants. Individuals making new claims will be the highest priority for this service. The second priority is to help those on long-term Statutory Sick Pay to return to work and thus retain their existing employment. The third priority is the "stock" of existing claimants who will be invited on a rolling basis. It could take the full 2 year lifetime of the pilots to contact everyone who is eligible (NDDP/PA Guide, paras 19-24).
The personal adviser pilots are voluntary. According to the ES guidance, "only fully trained personal advisers should conduct any interviews" (original emphasis) ((NDDP/PA Guide, para 33).
Advisers are told that the introductory interview is the most important stage of the programme – this is where any anxieties that a claimant might have can be allayed. Advisers are told to "give the client an overview of the service and reassurance that their benefits will not be affected by the interview process" (NDDP/PA Guide, para 33). If you decide to participate further, the adviser will make an assessment of your employability before proceeding further.
The next stage is to draw up a Progress Plan. This should "reflect genuine agreement" between you and the adviser about individual, employment-focused goals. The Progress Plan should only be produced "when the time is right for the individual client" and when "advisers and clients reach mutual agreement about need". The Plan should be positive and highlight your "ability and achievements rather than disability". The adviser may consult with your GP, carers or programme providers about what you are currently capable of doing and what assistance may be available (NDDP/PA Guide, paras 37-39).
Once the Progress Plan has been agreed, and some initial steps taken, the next stage starts. If these first steps do not result in you getting a job, the personal adviser will take you onto his/her "caseload" and arrange a series of interviews. At these interviews the adviser will review the Progress Plan and identify what additional help you may need. S/he will concentrate on three possible options:
- Entry to employment. If you are "job-ready", the adviser should conduct a search on the ES information system for currently available and suitable job vacancies. If you are unsuccessful, the adviser should "review the position" at a subsequent interview or over the phone. If you get a job, the adviser should keep in touch with you and the employer to see if any continuing support is needed (NDDP/PA Guide, paras 49-51).
- External support services. If you and your adviser are in agreement, it may be sensible to refer you to a specialist help agency or enrol on a programme run by the ES. These programmes (which are more fully detailed in the Unemployment and Training Rights Handbook) include:
- Programme Centres (which offer jobhunting facilities and resources like telephones, stamps and stationery along with advice on jobsearch techniques)
- Work Preparation courses (previously known as Employment Rehabilitation) designed to help overcome individual barriers to work
- Supported Employment – a programme for severely disabled people who cannot work in open employment which places them alongside non-disabled employees in a host company which receives a subsidy
- Access to Work – a system of grants towards the cost of providing personal support, special aids and adaptations or help with travel costs when working
- The Job Introduction Scheme which offers a £75 weekly subsidy to employers for a 6 week trial period of employment.
- You may opt to undertake some training through Work Based Learning for Adults (WBLA), which is called Training for Work in Scotland. Disabled people do not have to satisfy the usual entry requirement for joining WBLA. However, if you are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Income Support or Severe Disablement Allowance, you will have to claim JSA for a nominal period (usually 1 day) before joining WBLA. You will then be paid a training allowance which is based on your previous entitlement to benefit – thus protecting any higher levels of benefit you received. In line with the usual WBLA rules, you will also receive a £10 per week top-up (NDDP/PA Guide, paras 58-61). If the course lasts for less than a year, a "linking" rule lets you reclaim Incapacity Benefit if you complete the course but have to return to benefit. However, the rule will apply only if you sign on for JSA and then take up an employed-status WBLA within a week. If you attend a course that lasts for more than 12 months the linking rule does not apply: if you want to return to Incapacity Benefit, you will have to make a fresh claim and have your eligibility re-assessed.
The second major strand to the New Deal for Disabled People is a number of innovative projects which were announced in two phases in 1999. During 1998, disability organisations and others were invited to bid to deliver these projects and a number have already been started. If you live in one of the participating areas, your disability employment adviser will advise you about joining one.
Projects in Great Britain
Leonard Cheshire Workability: National coverage, 150 jobs
Leonard Cheshire, AbilityNet, Recycle IT, Microsoft, Amersham & Wycombe College and Bilston Community College, Shaw Trust, CanDo and Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities.
Centrica North West Project: North West England, 50 jobs
Centrica plc, Carers National Association; Employers Forum on Disability.
Status Employment Ltd: Croydon/South London, 50 jobs
Status Employment Ltd.
Back to Work: East and West Midlands, 164 jobs.
Libra Health; Manpower.
Manchester Mental Health in Employment Project: Manchester, 60 jobs
Manchester TEC; Talent to Work; Manchester, Salford and Trafford Health Authorities.
West of England Centre for Integrated Living: Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, 50 jobs.
Disability Business Partnerships: Avon/Wiltshire, West Midlands, Wales, 60 jobs
RNIB, Scope, Rathbone CI, Business in the Community, local TECs
Urban World: Grimsby & North East Lincolnshire, 100 jobs
Grimsby College; NE Lincolnshire Social Services; Shaw Trust; Carelink; Grimsby Deaf Club.
Integration for Opportunity – Jobs4All: North Scotland (Highlands), 28 jobs.
Thurso College; Interactive Business Partnerships, Development Partners and local Social Work department.
Gateway Partnerships: Hampshire, 165 jobs
Disability Matters, the Post Office, UNUM, Blue Arrow, Hampshire County Council, Hampshire TEC, Meridian Broadcasting, The Employers’ Forum on Disability, Hampshire Employers Network on Disability and the Employment Service.
Edinburgh University Settlement MB Cyber Centre: Lothians, 60 jobs
National Schizophrenia Fellowship: London and Essex, 35 jobs
The NSF, health authorities and trusts, social services departments and the private sector
Shaw Trust: South Wales, 62 jobs
Shaw Trust and local employers.
Prince’s Youth Business Trust: Hampshire, Surrey and Isle of Wight,
The Prince’s Youth Business Trust and the ES
Wigan & Leigh College: Wigan, 50 jobs
Wigan & Leigh College, local authority, Chamber of Commerce, TEC, local NHS Trust and cardiac care departments, and local health support groups
Scout Enterprises (Western) Ltd: Thames Valley, 72 jobs
Scout Enterprises (Western) Ltd and Support Shop Ltd
St Loye’s Foundation: South West England, 100 jobs
St Loye’s, Institute of Personnel Development, Employers’ Forum On Disability, Manpower plc, Railtrack plc and Lika Vilkor
RNID: Bristol, Derby, Doncaster and London, 95 jobs
RNID, City of Bristol College, City Literary institute, Derby College for Deaf People, Doncaster College for the Deaf, Midland Bank plc and Arthritis Care.
Rehab UK: National, from bases in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, 118 jobs
Rehab UK, Rehab Scotland, Shaw Trust, ES and employers
Mencap: Gateshead, Leeds, Scotland, 90 jobs
Mencap and Enable in Scotland
Dundee City Council: Tayside (Dundee, Perth, Arbroath), 40 jobs
Dundee City Council, Perth & Kinross Council, Angus Council, ES local hospitals, employers and colleges
Solotec: London, 160 jobs
Solotec and the New Millennium Experience
Bradford City Council: Bradford district, 35 jobs
Bradford Council co-ordinating a local partnership of public, private and voluntary sector
Mental Health Matters: North East England, 105 jobs
Mental Health Matters and Business in the Community
Projects in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, seven consortia have been appointed to run innovative pilot projects and they are:
- Disability Action – the "CLIMATE" initiative seeks to increase economic activity amongst disabled people who attend day centres, to enhance social inclusion and to address attitudinal barriers. It will be piloted in north and west Belfast, Armagh, Dungannon, Down and Lisburn areas.
- Omagh District Council – the Inclusion Through Work project aims to develop a model of career development and training for disabled people who are first-time jobseekers or who want to return to the labour market.
- ACET- the Job Support Programme uses the expertise of four organisations to remove barriers preventing people with disabilities from joining the workforce. It includes individual support. This will be tested in south and east Belfast.
- Network Personnel – IT Works is a distance-based employment initiative which aims to enable people to gain the skills needed to find jobs in their local area. Support in the workplace is also provided. It will be piloted throughout Northern Ireland.
- Mencap (NI) – Creating Opportunities for Real Employment aims to provide public sector employers with support measures to encourage them to employ adults with a learning or physical disability. It will be piloted in the Newry and Mourne area.
- Leonard Cheshire – Carers Job Care addresses barriers which prevent carers and former carers from finding and keeping employment. The project encourages employers to develop carer-friendly practices. It will be piloted in the Banbridge area.
- Fermanagh Training – the Return Project will work with relevant bodies to help people whose lives have been interrupted by accident or illness to get back to work. It will be operated in Fermanagh and parts of Tyrone.