Disabled man in powerchair with two children

The new Health and Disability Green Paper launched by the UK Government today will pave the way for a fairer future of the benefits system to better meet the needs of disabled people and those with health conditions.

The consultation, which can be read in full here, includes changes which could enable independent living and testing the role of advocacy, so people who need extra help to navigate the benefits system get the right level of support and information first time.

It is also calling for a review into how assessments are carried out. These include exploring the potential for longer-term use of telephone and video assessments and looking at how reassessments work, including testing a new Severe Disability Group (SDG) for people with severe and life-long conditions that will not improve.

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This could see those who meet the criteria experiencing a more simplified application process, without the need for an assessment to receive financial support

Another key change it is suggesting is to improve support for disabled people to help them start, stay and succeed in work through the Work and Health Programme, Access to Work and on personalising employment support, recognising that one size does not fit all.

The Green Paper builds on the recent announcement that people entering the final year of their life will have fast-track access to the benefits system. The six-month rule for people nearing the end of their lives claiming benefits will be replaced with a new 12-month, end of life approach, mirroring the current definition of end of life used across the NHS.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “I am incredibly pleased that in the course of putting this consultation together, we have been able to identify key themes for improvement.

“We already spend a record amount supporting disabled people and people with health conditions, and have made good progress at supporting more disabled people into work but we are ambitious for further improvement – and I am grateful to the disabled people and stakeholders who have contributed so far.”

In addition today, the government publishes its response to the Health is Everyone’s Business consultation, reaffirming the government’s ambition to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027 and outlining how employers will be supported on recruitment, retraining and career progression for disabled people.

The Health and Disability Green Paper is open for 12 weeks, and will run alongside a series of consultation events with disabled people and those with health conditions, and their representatives.

This will include events through virtual channels and face-to-face events covering England, Scotland and Wales, in order to maximise the reach of the consultation and inform changes that will improve people’s lives.

Following the consultation, detailed proposals will be brought forward in a White Paper next year, setting out how people can be enabled to take up work and live more independently, and outline the changes the government wants to make to the benefits system.

The announcement about the Green Paper comes after a report by the Social Mark Foundation found that increasingly costly government support has failed to prevent disabled people and their families from falling into poverty. It also found that there are now 1.8 million more people in poverty living in a family that includes a disabled person compared with 15 years ago.

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