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Six-figure Work Well Suffolk scheme to be launched across county to tackle disability employment gap

PUBLISHED: 23:25 11 March 2018 | UPDATED: 23:25 11 March 2018

The project aims to help reduce the dsability employment gap. File picture: PHIL MORLEY

The project aims to help reduce the dsability employment gap. File picture: PHIL MORLEY

A scheme piloted in Haverhill which helps people with disabilities into employment is to be rolled out across the county thanks to fresh six-figure cash.

Suffolk County Council data revealed that the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people was 26%, and said this was a “waste of talent and potential”.

In November, a £100,000 pilot scheme was launched in Haverhill, jointly funded by pooled business rates and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It offered additional support for those with disabilities, and links up employment and skills training and support with their health services. The aim is to open the door for more opportunities, and help people into sustained employment.

Suffolk County Council has been shortlisted for European Social Funding, with a further bid to be submitted next month set to determine whether it has been successful.

If approved, it could be in line for as much as £2million, while Suffolk Public Sector Leaders has pledged £150,000 per year for the next three years, to roll out the Work Well Suffolk scheme countywide.

A report prepared for Friday’s public sector leaders meeting said it would be the “cement between the bricks of the health, employability and wellbeing services”.

It will help those with physical conditions as well as mental health or learning difficulties.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said that it was vital to make support available, while Suffolk Coastal District Council leader Ray Herring added that it was about addressing hidden needs.

The report, prepared by Suffolk County Council’s head of skills Andrea Wood said it was “doing what’s right for Suffolk”.

The report added: “This proposal will help to decrease the disability employment gap and support more working age adults to move into, secure and sustain employment.

“It will be ambitious about increasing productivity, supporting inclusive growth and supporting rising levels of social mobility across the county.”

A working group has already been established, with discussions now set to happen with clinical commissioning groups, GPs, and job centres to develop and design the Suffolk-wide scheme.

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