DEVON County Council is to lobby Central Devon MP Mel Stride to push for greater support to help people with disabilities return to work.

Councillors have asked the county’s cabinet to write to Mr Stride, who is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in a bid to get him to tackle the issues people with disabilities can face when they go into the jobs market.

The council’s budget, health and adult care scrutiny committee passed a motion to lobby the MP to ensure people with disabilities receive incentives to return to employment without being worse off.

In November’s autumn statement, chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed the government would change the work capability assessment, which is used to decide whether individuals with disabilities can return to some form of work.

Disability charities fear that the changes, which would apply to new claims and be implemented next year, will mean people with disabilities will be wrongly or unfairly considered as able to work, and potentially lose benefits.

Scope, a disability equality charity, said the government wants the benefits system to “better reflect the greater flexibility” now available in the workplace.

“But we know that the world of work hasn’t changed so dramatically that thousands of disabled people can suddenly work from home,” the charity said.

“Under the changes, more people are expected to be declared fit for work and required to look for jobs or have their benefits cut.”

Dr Sarah Hughes, chief executive of Mind, a mental health charity, also criticised the proposals.

“Poverty and ill health form a vicious cycle,” she said.

“The UK government should scrap the proposed changes to work capability assessments, and instead focus on things like investing in workplace support and mental health services.”

Councillors also wanted to highlight the potential impact of new immigration rules on the delivery of adult social care, notably around new salary thresholds.

The government sets amounts that international workers seeking visas must earn.

Bradley Gerrard