A major step forward in disabled people's rights is promised in the Government's new Welfare Reform Bill, introduced today.
The Welfare Reform Bill, which builds on the White Paper published in December, contains a new "right to control" for disabled people, which recognises that they are the experts in their own lives.
The right to control is just one of a package of measures that promises to transform people's lives contained in the new Bill, which is formally laid before Parliament today. Others include changes to provide more help for workless parents, drug users and the long term unemployed.
The Government's welfare reforms are the biggest shake-up of the benefits system for 60 years.
James Purnell said:
"The Government is increasing the real help available to everyone claiming benefits during the economic downturn. We will not leave anyone behind as we face up to the global financial crisis.
"This Bill will allow us to bring about the most radical reform of the welfare state for generations. When times are tough, it is more important than ever that we provide people with the extra help they need.
"This includes giving more control to disabled people. Disabled people know better what they need in their lives than someone sat at a desk in Whitehall.
"Our reforms promise greater support for people on benefits and a more flexible, personalised system to help them find sustainable employment. In return we expect people to take up this help, and work with us to help themselves."
The Bill takes forward measures outlined in the Welfare Reform White Paper Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future.
Some of the key reforms supported by the Bill are:
- Lone parents and partners of people with younger children and disabled people who could work with support, will be expected to take part in training or other activities to help them move nearer to the job market.
- Requirements for the long-term unemployed to "work for their benefits"
- Measures for the rehabilitation of drug misusers
- And trailblazing a new right for disabled people to control how public resources are used to meet their individual needs
Employment Minister Tony McNulty added:
"These reforms are all about transforming people's lives, creating a fairer benefits system, which supports people as individuals, not just claimants.
"Many people claiming benefits, including lone parents and disabled people or those with health problems can work with the right help and support. We want to make sure that when jobs become available they are ready to take them."
The introduction of the Bill is a significant milestone in the Government's welfare reform plans. A number of measures have already been introduced.
In October, a new benefit for disabled people and those with health problems, was launched. Employment and Support Allowance ensures those who could work are given the help and support they need to get back to work, whilst providing additional support for those who can't work.
Under new rules introduced in November, thousands of lone parents now get extra support to help them prepare for work. Lone parents of children aged 12 plus will no longer be able to make a new or repeat claim for Income Support solely on the basis of being a lone parent. This will apply to lone parents whose children are seven and over from October 2010.
The first reading of the Welfare Reform Bill in Parliament follows the publication of the Welfare Reform White Paper Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming for the future in December and the Welfare Reform Green Paper No-one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility in July.
- A full copy of the Welfare Reform Bill can be found at: www.parliament.uk
- The Welfare Reform White Paper can be found at: www.dwp.gov.uk/welfarereform/raisingexpectations/
- The Welfare Reform Green Paper, No-one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility, is available at www.dwp.gov.uk/welfarereform/noonewrittenoff