Disabilities Minister vows to win back trust in benefits system

Sarah Newton is the Minister for Disabled People
Sarah Newton is the Minister for Disabled People
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The Disabilities Minister has vowed to win back trust in the benefits system and said “the door is open” for people to access the support they need to get back into work.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Sarah Newton - who took on the brief in November 2017 - suggested that the perception of the Department for Work and Pensions needed to be improved to win the confidence of claimants.

“I recognise that too many people don’t have confidence in the benefits system,” she said.

“A key goal for me is to regain people’s trust in the benefits system so that people will come forward and want to engage with their job centres, want to engage with their work coaches and access all the tailor-made support there is for people with disabilities and health conditions to help them meet the costs of their living and also to enable people into work who want to work.

“So, that fundamental issue of trust is something I have been working on.”

Ms Newton appealed to those in need of support to come forward and have faith in the services on offer.

“The door is open,” she said.

She highlighted the “training and investment we have put into our work coaches in our job centres, the way they are working with the community, making partnerships in the community - not just with local employers but with voluntary sector organisations and local councils.

“So people can have the services that they need joined up to enable them to play as full and active part in society as possible.

“I think there is a lot more help that is available to people than they realise and I want people to feel confident to cross that threshold and pick up the phone.”

But despite her ambitions, the delayed publication of the Social Care Green Paper - which was originally expected in 2017 - has frustrated many in the sector.

Asked if it is still a priority, she replied: “Yes. I have been working very hard on making sure that we make real progress with that and it’s launched as soon as possible.

“And we are particularly pleased that we are including working age adults within that paper because it’s really important that adults with disabilities who need social care support are considered alongside older people, because social care can enable people to live independent, full lives...

“So, it is really important that this Green Paper looks in the round at adult social care and the incredibly important role that it plays in enabling people to live independently in the community and the really important role that informal carers play alongside that.”

The Government has said the Green Paper will now be published “at the first opportunity in 2019”.