Chloe Smith, Member of Parliament for Norwich North has today spoken up during the Department for Work and Pensions Questions seeking help for people with disabilities or health conditions wishing to enter work, and called for better cooperation between the Department for Work and Pensions and the health service.
During the Department for Work and Pensions Parliamentary Questions taking place this afternoon, Chloe, who founded and chairs the Norwich for Jobs Project, raised the issue of support and funding for those with health problems and disabilities who would like to enter the work place.
In his reply, Work and Pensions Minister, Justin Thomlinson, stated that joining up the Department for Work and Pensions and the health service was a significant part of the ongoing work of the DWP to create additional support and opportunities. The Minister stated that further updates on this subject would be available soon.
The Minister referred to the £115m of funding in the Autumn Statement for the Joint Work and Health Unit. In the Autumn Statement, the Government set out that it wants to improve links between health services and employment support, recognising timely access to health treatments can help individuals return to work quicker. Over £115 million of funding will be provided for the Joint Work and Health Unit, including at least £40 million for a health and work innovation fund, to pilot new ways to join up across the health and employment systems. To further integrate services and help people back into work, where it has been agreed as part of a devolution deal, local areas will co-design employment support for harder-to-help claimants.
Chloe has been working locally in Norwich on providing additional support for young people aged 18-24 with physical and mental health problems through Phase Two of the Norwich for Jobs Project. The Project has been working closely with local charity, NANSA to ensure that individuals who need extra help and able to receive the one-to-one support they need to overcome difficulties and become job-ready. A number of local businesses in Norwich have been supporting young people by taking part in work-taster days and mock interviews, including Premier Inn and Archant; the taster days provided young people with physical and mental health difficulties with the opportunity to speak to real employers and gain confidence in their own skills through tailored sessions.
Chloe comments: “As founder and chair of the Norwich for Jobs project, my work to support young people with physical and mental health problems takes place in both Norwich and in Westminster where I raise the issues affecting young Norwich people directly where change that can benefit them can happen. I am proud of the work that Norwich for Jobs has done in linking up organisations to offer more support for young people with physical and mental health problems, and I shall continue to champion this cause in Westminster. I urge any business who could employ someone with a physical or mental health problem to get in touch and find out what help is available to them. My challenge to Norwich businesses is to offer work experience to an individual with a disability and health problem and discover just how rewarding this can be both for the young person and for the business.”