Friday, July 07, 2006

Figures Make Unhappy Reading

Liberal Democrats in Westminster can exclusively reveal that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is now employing fewer Disabled People now than it was five years ago, down from 5.99% in 2002, to 5.25% in 2006.

These figures come in the wake of a bill in Westminster to reform Incapacity Benefit has been published. This Bill is aimed at getting more people off Incapacity Benefit and back into paid employment.

Danny Alexander MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Welfare Reform, raised the following points:

1. The Government’s incapacity benefit target is more spin than substance, with one million people already due to come off benefit in the next 10 years because of retirement.

2. We need to hear much more about how employers’ including government departments - are to be engaged in this process.

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats can exclusively reveal that the number of people moving off Job Seekers Allowance having found work in the Aberavon Constituency has dropped, quite sharply from September 2004 to September 2005.

September 2004 57.4% found work.
September 2005 41.3% found work.

These figures strongly suggest that people who are unable to find suitable employment are moving from Job Seekers Allowance and onto other benefits, and that Jobs are becoming harder to find within the Aberavon Constituency.

2001 Census data paints a “less than rosy” picture for the County of Neath Port Talbot. The Census data shows that some 24% of the working age population, within the County having a limiting long-term illness.

Only two other counties in Wales, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil have worse rates of limiting long-term illness than Neath Port Talbot.

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats were quite shocked to see how few Disabled People (as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) were employed by Local Authorities within Wales. Figures obtained from the Local Government Data Unit (2004/05) show that Anglesey employs just 0.22% Disabled People, the lowest in Wales. While RCT employs 3.65% Disabled People, the highest in Wales.

Neath Port Talbot Council employ 1.51% Disabled People, which is substantially higher than many Local Authorities in Wales, but local Lib Dems feel to be totally inadequate when you consider the number of people within the County who have a limiting long-term illness.

- Gary Lewis 07 July 06

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