By John Vale in Care Appointments.
Staff at Jobcentres have an “alarming” lack of confidence dealing with disabled people just weeks ahead of new welfare reforms coming into force, campaigners have warned.
Phil Reynolds, co-chairman of the Disability Benefits Consortium, said it was important disabled people were not “shoehorned” back into work as a result of the Government’s new claimant commitment.
It will be introduced for employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants in September, setting out activities they must do to get their benefits.
Research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found some Jobcentre work coaches found it “daunting” and “uncomfortable” working with ESA claimants, and felt they needed extra training on things like mental health.
Claimant commitments are already used for those claiming jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit, but will be rolled out next month for ESA claimants, who are unable to work due to illness or disability.
DWP said claimants and work coaches had responded positively during the trial and that “thorough training” was given on how to support people with disabilities and long term health conditions.
Mr Reynolds, who is also senior policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK, called for an urgent review of the policy before it is introduced.
“These findings show an alarming lack of confidence from work coaches when dealing with the complex needs of disabled people,” he told the Press Association.
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