On Monday 31st October the government published its Work, Health and Disability Green Paper. (A Green Paper is a government consultation document. Its role is to create debate on proposals for new policy or legislation, before committing to a course of action.)
The consultation looks at the relationship between health, work and disability. It outlines new proposals to reduce the disability employment gap and ensure that people with disabilities and long term health conditions get the personalised support they need to remain in work or get back to work where they can.
The government intends to introduce a new Personal Support Package for people with health conditions who are out of work, ensuring that they receive tailored health and employment support from work coaches and community partners with expertise in disability. The government also intends to reform the work capability assessments process for people claiming Employment Support Allowance and Universal credit. Assessments for financial support and employment support will be carried out separately, so that people who may be able to work with the right support can access the help they need without affecting the financial support they receive.
Amanda Croft, Policy Officer at the MS Trust, said:
"The right work is a big driver of overall health and wellbeing, but we know that unemployment rates are much higher among people with MS than the general population. The MS Trust welcomes this recognition from the government that people with long-term conditions are still a valuable asset to the workforce, and that flexibly tailored support can help people with conditions like MS to achieve their employment goals.
The unpredictable nature of MS symptoms is a particular challenge for individuals with MS and employers. Work capability assessments have historically been poorly designed for a fluctuating condition like MS. We urge the government to take the opportunity offered by their proposed review of the assessment process to ensure that the fluctuating and hidden symptoms of MS and their impact are properly taken into account.
It is imperative that better employment support is combined with a fair and compassionate welfare system that offers support and security to those whose condition makes it impossible for them to work."
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