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'DISABILITY MATTERS' SAYS HOWARTH

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Equal opportunities minister Alan Howarth today reaffirmed the Government's commitment to disabled people. ...
Equal opportunities minister Alan Howarth today reaffirmed the Government's commitment to disabled people.

Speaking to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People in London, he said:

' The Government has emphasised the importance it places on ensuring that disabled people - including those with hearing impairments - take their rightful place in society. We are moving ahead fast:

-- o195m has been made available for training and employment opportunities for disabled people under our Welfare to Work proposals;

-- Young disabled people who receive the Jobseekers Allowance will be able to join the New Deal without satisfying the basic eligibility criteria of six months unemployment and will receive specially tailored help;

-- We are consulting on the best way to achieve our commitment to introduce comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people;

-- Next month we shall be launching a Green Paper on special educational needs; and

-- The DSS is committed to a Comprehensive Spending Review with the objective of reducing poverty and welfare dependency and promoting work incentives

' I am particularly pleased that disabled people will have a part to play in our Welfare to Work proposals. The o195m will provide an opportunity to encourage and enable disabled people, and those with long-term illness who have lost touch with the labour market, to move into training, and jobs and improve their employability.

' We are looking to develop measures which best meet specific needs. We will be considering how we can learn from current good practice as well as what the scope is for using this money in new and innovative ways. I hope that those with practical experience will come forward to share their ideas. I look forward to hearing your views on how we might best meet the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

' Our Manifesto pledged our support for comprehensive, enforceable civil rights for disabled people against discrimination in society or at work - developed in partnership with interested parties. We are consulting on the best way to achieve this key commitment.

' The Green Paper on special educational needs will cover a very wide range of issues, fleshing out earlier proposals and we will be consulting with parents, teachers, LEAs, and voluntary organisations. As part of this, we want to hear you views on how to improve education for deaf children. '

Notes

1. Under the New Deal for unemployed people we are offering four options to young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who have been unemployed for more than 6 months: i) a job with an employer who will be paid£60 a week for 6 months to take them on; ii) a job with a voluntary organisation for 6 months; iii) full-time basic skills education or training and iv) work with an environmental task force.

2. Disabled people joining the New Deal will receive help from a dedicated Employment Service adviser and other agencies to help guide them through the New Deal options (the gateway). These provisions should help to ensure that the particular needs of disabled people are met in full and that they gain the maximum benefit from the help available in the New Deal.

3. New Deal will also offer employers subsidies to take on people of 25 or over who have been unemployed for two years or more, as well as offering some over-25s a chance to study full-time for up to a year while remaining on benefit.

4. The New Deal for 18 - 24 year olds will begin in a number of 'pathfinder areas' in Britain in January 1998, and will be introduced nationally in April 1998. Help for people aged 25 or over and unemployed for at least 2 years will start in June 1998

5. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government would bring forward proposals to help disabled people and those on Incapacity Benefit who want training or work, and that up to£195m would be set aside to fund this programme. DfEE and DSS have joint responsibility for bringing forward proposals for deploying the£195m.

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