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Havering Council to get cash and powers to help disabled back into work

PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 February 2017

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall

Archant

“Start listening to professional consultants and doctors,” was the appeal from a carer as Havering Council gets ready to receive new powers to help disabled people get into work.

“The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) don’t know anything about my wife’s condition,” said Brian Relf, 53, of Rush Green.

“It’s not that people don’t want to work, some people cannot.”

Last week, ministers approved a budget for the new Work and Health Programme which will see £80million delivered over five years to London councils.

The funding and devolved powers will enable authorities like Havering Council to support the long-term unemployed, including homeless and disabled people, back into employment.

Mr Relf who cares for his wife Rosemary, fears people will be put into financial difficulty.

The couple, who receive disability benefits and carer’s allowance, had their benefits stopped when they applied for the Personal Independent Payments (PIP).

Last year, they got into debt and had to sell household items and jewellery to survive, before a tribunal reinstated their claims.

“They [DWP] shouldn’t force people or put pressure or stress on people who are unable to work,” continued Mr Relf.

But co-chairman of the Disability Benefits Consortium, Phil Reynolds offered reassurance.

“We expect the Work and Health Programme to be significantly different to PIP,” he said.

“PIP is designed to help people manage the extra costs of their condition, whether they’re in or out of work and isn’t devolved to local councils.

“We know that strict assessment criteria and assessors with a mixed knowledge and understanding of many long-term conditions mean that PIP is causing unnecessary stress and anxiety for thousands of disabled people who can’t get

access to the support that keeps them independent and, in some cases, in work.

“It’s crucial that the Work and Health Programme provides support that’s suitable for the person in question and that things people are asked to do are agreed and going to make a difference in terms of getting them into work.”

Work and pensions secretary Damian Green said: “This is a significant step to help thousands of disabled and vulnerable Londoners get the support they need to move away from benefits and find lasting work. Good work has huge benefits for physical and mental health.”

Speaking at a budget briefing on Tuesday, council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey said the funding and devolved powers was a move in the “right direction”.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Clarence Barrett said the funding was “very welcome” and would help the council deliver the required support.

He continued: “Vital support can be better aligned with other services, such as housing and health, so that opportunities are created and outcomes improved to help our long-term unemployed and those with health conditions or disabilities into work.”


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