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The health and disability green paper consultation asks those with lived experience how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions now and in the future. The consultation is open until Monday 11 October for individual responses or responses from groups and organisations.

The five areas that the government are consulting on are:

  • Providing the right support
  • Improving employment support
  • Improving current services
  • Re-thinking future assessments to support better outcomes
  • Exploring ways to improve the design of the benefit system

People’s Health Trust funds a variety of projects which are led by or support disabled people, people with learning disabilities, and people with physical health issues or mental illnesses. It is clear from official data across Great Britain, but also from speaking to our funded partners, that disabled people face far greater barriers within the social and economic factors which help keep us healthy and increase life expectancy.

The life expectancy of people with learning disabilities is 27 years less for women and 23 years less for men than people without learning disabilities. When we look at factors such as access to secure employment or suitable welfare support, the causes of these disparities are clear.

Financial instability is one of the social determinants of health that has a huge impact on our life expectancy. The poverty rate for people in a family with a disabled family member was 31% in 2018/2019 compared with 19% for families with no disabled members.

It is crucial the government provides adequate support for disabled people accessing in and out of work benefits and support to find well-paid secure work. Consultations can often be lengthy, but it is important that those with lived experience of a system the government acknowledges is insufficient for many disabled people are able to respond, as they are best placed to understand the improvements needed.

The five chapters contained in the consultation are summarised below and a full list of consultation questions can be found here so you can plan your response in advance. Respondents do not have to answer all of the questions and can choose any specific chapters to respond to.

Chapter 1: Providing the right support

Chapter one asks questions regarding the accessibility of signposting and access to advocacy support. This could include the availability of information and the role of the government in ensuring people can access this information. This section also asks about reasonable adjustments to make sure existing services are accessible. Reasonable adjustments can include, for example, support to access information in a variety of formats. This also covers mobility needs and includes access to PIP and DLA mobility payments.

Chapter 2: Improving employment support

Chapter two discusses existing employment support services and how these can be improved. This includes Access to Work and Disability Confident schemes as well as other measures the government can take to support disabled people to access employment opportunities. As well as the existing schemes this section also covers the accessibility and suitability of support including creating a welcoming atmosphere at Job Centres and suitable skill sets of staff providing employment support to disabled people. There is an opportunity to share your past experiences with employment support and what improvements you think can be made. This section also asks about the provision of digital support which has been available during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Chapter 3: Improving our current services

Chapter three focuses on the assessment process for people claiming health and disability benefits. During COVID-19 video and telephone assessments were offered to people and the consultation asks about how mixed methods of assessments can be provided in the future. Questions also ask about how decisions can be better communicated and what steps can be taken to reduce repeat assessments for people with long-term health conditions and disabilities.

Chapter 4: Re-thinking future assessments to support better outcomes

Chapter four is about how decisions are currently made and what evidence is used in the decision making process, for example, whether evidence from health professionals and support organisations should be sought and considered. What support could be made available to help assessors make decisions and provide more personalised support plans is also considered in this section.

Chapter 5: Exploring ways to improve the design of the benefit system

Chapter five asks about the simplification of accessing the benefits system. It also includes questions on the structure of benefits and financial concerns. Some specific questions are asked about extra costs to live independently and access to practical support such as aids, appliances and services.

You can read more about the consultation and take part here. You can find a list of all of the consultation questions here.

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