Yesterday saw the final Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP) questions of the parliamentary year, and the first time that the new Conservative DWP team answered questions on the Government front benches from all members of the House of Commons.

The British Parliament has one of the best records in the world when it comes to Governments keeping to, and implementing, their manifesto.

One of the Conservative promises was “removing barriers that stop… disabled people from participating in our workforce”. This is a goal that both United Response and the Government share.

United Response believes that people with disabilities are equal participants in society, and should have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. This is the vision we work towards and the reason we exist.

As such, we are pleased that the new Disabilities Minister Justin Tomlinson has already gone on record to say that he wants to provide a better experience for disabled people that “ensures fairer outcomes, enables employment support for disabled people who might previously have just been written off, and targets financial help at those with the greatest need”.

Our campaigns and policy team has already spoken to Mr Tomlinson’s private office in the DWP to arrange a meeting at his earliest convenience to discuss these shared aims.

It was also encouraging to hear Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith state: “We believe that benefits are about supporting people to do the right thing to get back to work and live a more prosperous life.”

Support across the political spectrum

United Response is also in contact with Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Stephen Timms and Shadow Disabilities Minister Kate Green.

They questioned the new Government about proposals to help disabled people back into work, as well as the support that the most vulnerable people with disabilities and mental health problems need.

The British Parliament is at its best when all parties unite to help those people who need it most.

We encourage Ministers, Shadow Ministers and MPs from all political parties to listen to the views of people with disabilities or mental health needs.

United Response urges all parliamentarians to do what the British Parliament does best: to scrutinise and contribute to any legislation on all relevant issues affecting disabled people, and those with mental health problems, as the Government’s new legislative agenda begins.

United Response questions Disabilities Minister on employment

United Response is particularly pleased with the question that local MP Dr Tania Mathias asked in the House of Commons on our behalf in DWP Questions yesterday.

Dr Mathias is aware of United Response’s work through the Teddington Support Centre, which we run in her Twickenham constituency, and other similar centres throughout the country.

Campaigns and public affairs manager John meets with Dr Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham

Dr Tania Mathias asked Disabilities Minister Justin Tomlinson: “Will the Minister work with organisations such as United Response, which does excellent work in my constituency with people who have learning difficulties such as autism, so that people with learning difficulties go into every kind of job and all public service?

"Some are councillors," she continued. "I want more people with learning difficulties to put themselves forward to be councillors and Members of Parliament.”

Mr Tomlinson replied: “Too often, disabled people are seen as recipients when they want to be net contributors. Local initiatives sharing best practice, busting the myths and ensuring that people see what a huge amount of talent is available will continue to help to drive up disability employment rates.”

United Response welcomes this recognition by the Disabilities Minister of the invaluable role that people with disabilities can play in the workforce.

Watch this space

As we move towards summer recess for Parliament, the Government’s legislative agenda will wind down before it has really begun.

The real test of how new legislation on disability, health and social care matters affects people we support will come in the autumn, with the start of the new Parliamentary year, and United Response will keep you up to date with all the very latest from Westminster.

But, for now, keep an eye on this blog, and check out, follow and share our work, campaigns and latest social care news via social media.

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John JC Cooper, campaigns and public affairs manager.