The ability to both gain and sustain an unsubsidised job.

As the recession continues and the cuts bite deeper, employment (or, rather, unemployment) is going to be-come even more of a major issue in Dumfries & Galloway.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) unemployment is expected to hit a 17-year high this year, rising from 7.9 per cent to about 9 per cent, or 2.7million, while those in work will find pay rises will remain, at 2 per cent, below inflation.

On top of this, the Government wants to get a million people off incapacity benefit (another welfare benefit being reformed and renamed Employment Support Allowance) and into work. Many disabled people would welcome the opportunity to be in employment – but where are the jobs? Where are the mechanisms for ensuring disabled people who have been unemployed for many years have the up-to-date skills for the job market?

According to Dumfries and Galloway Council report „Using Equality Evidence to Inform Policy‟ the gap between employment rates for non-disabled and disabled people in Dumfries & Gallo-way is 27 per cent. Nationally, disabled people are twice as likely as others to

have no recognised qualifications and even amongst disabled graduates the rate of unemployment is 14 per cent higher than for non-disabled adults with NO qualifications at all.

Access to Work funding, which currently assists around 20,000 dis-abled people a year, will double over the next two or three years meaning more people should receive greater amounts of assistance in meeting their travel to work, personal assistance and adaptations costs. However, those 20,000 people represent 0.35 per cent of all disabled people of working age. Doubling the funding to support 40,000 is still only going to assist 0.7 per cent.

The re-named Employment Support Allowance will also introduce Work Focused Assessment interviews for those on incapacity/sickness benefits. These interviews will identify the level of support required to assist people into work but with the DWP cutting budgets there is real concern that support will not materialise. Job Centre Plus has announced over 9,000 staff jobs must go – these are the people supposedly helping the unemployed find jobs.

The Government is of the view that partnership working is the key to improving services locally with the expectation that all relevant partners will engage at a local level, including local authorities, employers, learning and skills councils, regional development agencies, health, Jobcentre Plus and the private and voluntary sectors. Partners should work together to identify the local priorities.

DGVoice is determined to ensure that the region‟s disabled people have a voice and input to any policies on employability being made locally.


Dumfries and Galloway Supported Employment Service

by Claire McIldowie

Manager of Supported Employment Services

Dumfries and Galloway Council‟s Supported Employment Service works with individuals with either learning or physical disabilities, those suffering or recovering from mental health issues or individuals with an acquired brain injury through a person centred approach to secure voluntary or paid employment within the local community.

Local communities need to have a greater understanding of the contribution that people with a disability can make to the community and what better way to start to raise that un-derstanding than through work opportunities. Giving people with disabilities a more positive profile in local communities is an important step towards changing public attitudes.

On receipt of a referral service, all service users are designated an Employment Support Worker, who will provide a range of support to the individual from job searches, updating CVs, support with completing job application forms and support to attend interviews.

Once a job has been secured, we support our service users through their induction process and with any job training required. Once settled in employment, we work with service users and employers to agree a development plan that helps individuals develop additional skills and identify any relevant training to enable them to do their job well and further their career aspirations. Ongoing support is provided to both the service user and the employer.

For many reasons some individuals do not feel ready to take on paid employment. This could be due to lack of confidence, having never worked before or having been out of employment for a long period of time. The Supported Employment Ser-vice works with these individuals to secure voluntary work placements as a first step towards paid employment.

Supporting people into paid or voluntary work offers individuals the opportunity to be included in society, to gain more self-esteem, learn new skills, gain a sense of achievement and to meet new people. For people in paid employment it also offers

a means of income which in itself opens up a wide range of possibilities to

participate in further social activities in the local community.

Part of the success of finding suitable jobs and placements is developing a relationship with employers in the local community. It is important that employers feel confident that when taking one of our service users on that they are being supported to deal with any issues that may arise.

The Supported Employment Service are continually looking at mechanisms to further engage with employers in the local community who have not considered employing an individual with a disability to further opportunities to come together and discuss the issues and barriers that employers perceive and gain advice and solutions to overcome these.

The Supported Employment Service has an open referral route whereby anyone can make a referral to the service, for more information or for a referral form you can call us on 01387 249172 or 01776 889887 or visit our website at www.dumgal.gov.uk/supportedemployment