The Government yesterday announced a £6.8m U-turn to end an embarrassing anomaly which led to accusations of discrimination against disabled youngsters.
Earlier this month The Independent revealed that a programme for disabled people had been excluded from the Government's flagship scheme to reduce youth unemployment.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, last month launched the Youth Contract, the Coalition's £1bn centrepiece policy to reduce youth unemployment. Under the three-year scheme, 160,000 wage subsidies each worth up to £2,275 will be offered to employers who recruit 18- to 24-year-olds claiming benefits on the Work Programme and retain them for six months.
The subsidies did not extend to Work Choice, a programme designed specifically for people with learning, mental health and physical disabilities. But yesterday Maria Miller, the minister for Disabled People, announced the change of heart.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said there was "potential to support more than 1,000 young disabled people a year", costing at least an extra £6.8m.
Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), said: "We're delighted the Government has finally seen sense and is extending the wage incentive to young disabled people."