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Mike presses Government on the disability employment gap

On Monday 9th January 2017 Mike pressed Government Ministers on the disability employment gap.

Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South): How can the Government meet their target to reduce the disability employment gap—in fact, to halve it— when they are cutting by 80% the resources available to do that? Are those not just empty words?

Penny Mordaunt (The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions): I think the hon. Gentleman is confused: we are actually putting more resources into these initiatives, and also asking others to do more. Obviously, we are consulting in the Green Paper, but even some of the announcements the Prime Minister made today included additional resource. We very much want to meet that target, and we are putting the resources and the policies in place to do that.

Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South): The Secretary of State referred to temporary assistance being given to distressed trusts, but is there not a more fundamental ticking time bomb in the form of the sustainability and transformation plans? I draw his attention to the debate I led on 16 December on the north-east London plan, which envisages a deficit of £578 million by 2021 and says that on a “business as usual” case model, with normal-type reductions and savings, there will still be a £240 million gap. That will mean poorer services. There is no capital provision for the closure of the King George hospital A&E and its re-provisioning at Queen’s hospital. Will he look into this matter urgently? There is going to be a massive crisis in my area unless urgent steps are taken to provide more resources.

Jeremy Hunt (The Secretary of State for Health): I am happy to look into that issue. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the staff of both Queen’s and King George hospital, who have not only done very well over the winter but have made great progress in turning around the trust, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is in special measures. We are hopeful that it might be able to come out of special measures at some stage this year under its new leadership, but that is obviously a decision for the CQC.

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