Controversial DWP Workwell scheme to be trialled in Birmingham and Solihull

A move to put long-term sick people back into work – part of a controversial package of measures dubbed an “all-out attack on disabled people” – is to be heard in Birmingham and Solihull. The WorkWell program will be piloted in a total of 15 areas.

It is part of the Government’s wide-ranging changes to the welfare system, which include a review of payments for people with mental health problems. Starting in October, the £64 million pilot program will link people with a condition or disability to local support services such as physiotherapy and counselling, helping them stay in or return to work.

Launched by the Department for Work and Pensions, the DWP and the Department of Health and Social Care, the service will combine healthcare with workplace support advice. For example, a family doctor might refer a patient with severe back pain to WorkWell.

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A counselor could then liaise with the workplace to arrange adjustments such as flexible working hours or moving the office downstairs, as well as helping them access physiotherapy. Areas taking part in the trial also include Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester, Leicester, parts of North London and South Yorkshire.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “We are delivering the next generation of welfare reforms so thousands more people can get all the benefits that work brings.

“Too many today fall into unemployment in a sick spiral that damages their finances, their prospects and ultimately their health, where with the right adjustments and help in the workplace, this need not be the case.

“So we’ve designed WorkWell, a ground-breaking new service which will integrate health and work advice locally for the first time as part of our plan to stem the tide of economic inactivity, grow the economy and change live for the better.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Too often people with disabilities or ill health fall into unemployment without support. We have a plan to change this and improve life so that everyone has the opportunity to find fulfilling work.”

“This service will help tens of thousands of people, who will receive shared work and healthcare tailored to their individual needs. This service, together with a faster, simpler and fairer health service, will build a healthier workforce and a stronger workforce. economy.”

The service is voluntary, with individuals having the option to self-refer or be referred to WorkWell by an employer or through the community sector. Ministers are also keen to simplify the process of issuing WorkWell matching notes, proposing that those applying for one ‘have a conversation about work and health and be referred to local employment support services so that to be able to stay at work”.

Last month, Rishi Sunak put forward a plan to transfer responsibility for issuing sick notes from GPs to designated “specialists and health professionals” in a bid to tackle what he calls the “sick note culture”. The Prime Minister stressed that the current system fails to focus adequately on the types of work people can still do.

Disability equality charity Scope has criticized proposed changes to personal independence payments, which are designed to help disabled people with extra living costs due to long-term health or disability, labeling them as “an all-out attack on disabled people”.

Labor has said it intends to review any new schemes to help people find work. Alison McGovern, Acting Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “With record numbers of people out of work due to illness and millions on spiraling NHS and mental health waiting lists, we need a long term plan to fix our NHS. and put Britain to work, not more pilots returning to the fringes.

“Labour’s plan to make Britain work will reduce NHS waiting lists, reform jobcentres, make work pay and support people to get good jobs in every part of the country. Change with Labor can’t come soon enough.”

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