Welfare Reform, Its Back
On Tuesday this week we started the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and the next few months are going to be pretty busy and probably with lots of challenges in terms of getting to any agreement. A big part of what I talked about was about how disabled people can get in to work. Disabled people are far more likely to be unemployed than non disabled people, but in the North East where there are huge difficulties anyway, it is going to be far harder to find work or keep a job
There is one thing about having an aspiration to get disabled people into work and then the reality of making it happen. Whether you are disabled or not the attitude of the employer is key. They will already have made decisions about what type of person they are looking for. One person has told me that when they went for an interview they were asked about how they went to the bathroom as opposed to whether they could do the job. I think I shocked a few people raising this in the chamber.
There is a goal to have three million apprenticeships which is great, and also challenging,but they need to be meaningful, have a real qualification attached to it, but there also has to be a job at the end.
It all comes back to having a job market. When as a country we choose where to invest, keeping something like the steel works open makes more sense to be than paying benefits. But what do I know? Once people drop out of work getting them back into it is all the harder
I did talk about getting more people active. This is really important, whether it is through school PE or outside sport there is a link between educational attainment and the amount of physical activity you do. For people whether they are in or out of work, as a nation we are not fit and healthy enough. This has a cost to the work force and the NHS.
What I did ask for last night on social media was experiences of disabled people who have had problems getting work which is linked to their impairment. There may be more specific help in terms of cv writing and interview practise, but the attitude of employers also needs to be educated and it comes back yet again to having a job available, the transport to get there, and it paying more than being on benefits. The last welfare reform bill was fairly brutal. If the eleven O'clock finish and 43 speakers in anything to go by this is not really going to be any different.