Published — 22 June, 2019

Arthritis and employment support

Thank you for contacting me regarding employment support for people with arthritis.

I agree with you that work is really important for ensuring that people with arthritis are able to lead fulfilling lives. I can assure you that as part of the Green Paper on work, health and disability, Ministers have explored ways to improve support for people with conditions such as arthritis to find and remain in work. Musculoskeletal conditions are one of the two key areas, along with mental health, which the Green Paper placed specific focus on.

The government response to the paper recognised the important role of musculoskeletal care services, including physiotherapy and launched new trials to help support people move back into work. It is also important to work more closely with employers to raise awareness of issues around disabilities and health conditions and to share best practice. The Disability Confident campaign has done great work in this area in recent years and a new Disability Confident Business Leaders Group was announced in the Green Paper to work alongside ministers and officials to increase employer engagement around disabled employment.

The Access to Work scheme is also being expanded to help more disabled people start or remain in work. Access to Work is receiving a real-terms increase in resources, enabling increased marketing of the scheme to raise awareness among those who could benefit from it. The new Personal Support Package announced in the Green Paper will also mean that people with health conditions such as arthritis will be able to receive employment support which is more tailored to their specific individual needs.

Due to a longstanding commitment, I am unable to attend the debate tomorrow. I will, however, raise your concerns with Ministers in the Department for Work & Pensions when I next meet with them. I will also make sure to mention your email to my colleague Mr Bill Grant MP who is sponsoring this debate.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.