Headlines: March 9th, 2010

Seven local authorities are to pilot a new scheme to support people with learning disabilities to find paid work.The Jobs First project will help people to use money from their personal care budgets to get the support they need to move into lasting employment.

The pilots, each of which will last for a year, will be run by the county councils in Essex and Northamptonshire, the London Borough of Newham and the local authorities in Herefordshire, Leicester, North Tyneside and Oldham. Each of the authorities will develop its own model for providing extra support. Jobs First will then evaluate the seven pilots and share the information with councils across the country to help them use existing resources more effectively.

Naming the pilot authorities the Care Services Minister, Phil Hope, said fewer than one in ten adults with learning disabilities who were known to councils in England were in paid employment. This meant many people were open to greater disadvantage and social exclusion. Having a job, he said, offered financial benefits and helped to give a sense of independence.

“I’ve met many people with learning disabilities who would love the chance to get a job but too often they find it incredibly hard to overcome the barriers they face. Personal budgets allow them to get the tailored job support they need,” he said.

The Minister added that the pilot schemes would show how this could be done and he was confident that the initiative would improve the effectiveness of support across the country. Jobs First will be closely aligned with the Right to Control initiative run by the Office for Disability Issues, which aims to give disabled people more power to decide how they live their lives.