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UK Government publishes Work, Health and Disability Green Paper

November 02, 2016

People affected by M.E. will soon have the chance to feed into a Government consultation on how employment prospects can be improved for people with disabilities or long term health conditions.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DoH) have published their Improving Lives: Work, Health and Disability Green Paper - a preliminary report of Government proposals that is published in order to provoke discussion.

Action for M.E. is part of the Expert Advisory Group that engages with the DWP in considering policy recommendations, and this work has seen us collaborate with other charities to highlight the complex needs of people with disabilities and long-term conditions.

In order to submit a detailed formal response to this consultation, we will consult with people affected by M.E. through our Online M.E. Centre, social media and our membership magazine, InterAction. We are planning the best way to go about this, and will post updates in due course about how you can take part.

The green paper outlines proposals to improve employment prospects for people with disabilities or long term health conditions. Anyone with an interest is invited to respond to the paper.

The proposals follow on from the government’s manifesto ambition to halve the disability employment gap. Employment among disabled people currently stands at 48% compared to 80% among non-disabled people.

“When things need improving, like the Work Capability Assessment and fit notes, we mustn’t shy away from big decisions,” said Work and Pensions Secretary Damien Green. “We must be bold in our ambition to help disabled people and those with health conditions. This Green Paper marks the start of our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings that, after many years, have become ingrained within the welfare state, within the minds of employers and across wider society.”

The green paper and accompanying consultation cover a wide range of topics targeted at improving employment for disabled people. These include how to:

  • best provide support to enter and retain employment
  • provide financial support in a straightforward and timely way when people fall out of employment
  • support employers in recruiting disabled people and creating healthy workplaces
  • promote health and prevent ill health

Specific proposals include those targeting the need for supportive absence management processes and flexible working arrangements, including the reform of Statutory Sick Pay so that it can better support people in a phased return to work.

The paper also recognises that greater use could be made of fit notes as a key tool in identifying a person’s need and helping them to manage their condition, and proposes that greater use is made of the opportunity for the GP to give advice and that their use could be extended from doctors in primary care to other healthcare professionals.

The government is inviting responses from groups and individuals via email, mail or an online survey until 17 February 2017.