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):

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+:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

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:

The New Deal for Disabled People consists of three strands:

Personal advisers

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:

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:

Shaw Trust

South Tyneside

City of York Council

North Yorkshire

Sema Group

East Mercia (Boston, Kings Lynn, Skegness)

Outset Limited

Bedfordshire

Shaw Trust

Newham

Westcountry Training and Consultancy Service

South Devon

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).

Introductory interview

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).

Caseload interviews

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:

Innovative projects

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

Projects in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, seven consortia have been appointed to run innovative pilot projects and they are: