UK Announces New Employment Support Package for Health-Disabled People

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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The British government announced on Oct. 31 that a new Personal Support Package will be available for people with health disabilities, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), ensuring they receive personalized health and employment support.

A Green Paper – a government document for consultation – is available online to open the debate on proposals for new policy or legislation before the measure is enacted.

The document, titled “Work, health and disability: improving lives,” analyzes the interdependencies between health, work and disability. The objective was to propose new alternatives to reduce the disability employment gap and ensure that long-term disabled patients get the support they need to continue working or find new employment if they need it.

“The right work is a big driver of overall health and well-being, but we know that unemployment rates are much higher among people with MS than the general population,”Amanda Croft, U.K. MS Trust’s policy officer, said in a press release.

“The MS Trust welcomes this recognition from the government that people with long-term conditions are still a valuable asset to the workforce, and that flexibly tailored support can help people with conditions like MS to achieve their employment goals,” Croft said.

The document is also a means toward reforming government strategies on the processes that people who receive employment support allowance – and universal credit – are assessed for their work capability. The government will begin analyzing financial and employment support requests separately so that people who might still be able to work given the right support can access the help they need without it affecting their financial situation.

“The unpredictable nature of MS symptoms is a particular challenge for individuals with MS and employers,” Croft said. “Work capability assessments have historically been poorly designed for a fluctuating condition like MS. We urge the government to take the opportunity offered by their proposed review of the assessment process to ensure that the fluctuating and hidden symptoms of MS and their impact are properly taken into account.”

“It is imperative that better employment support is combined with a fair and compassionate welfare system that offers support and security to those whose condition makes it impossible for them to work,” she added.

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