‘Odds Stacked Against Young Disabled People’ DR UK’s Response to Lord’s Inquiry

Tue,31 October 2023
News Education Employment Health & Social Care

Disability Rights UK have submitted a response to the, now closed, House of Lords inquiry: “The transition from education to employment for young Disabled people”. Our full response is attached below. 

Areas examined by the inquiry included career and employment support and advice young Disabled people receive throughout this transition, how far public services demonstrate best practice on employing young Disabled people, support for employers, and enforcement of the rights of young Disabled people in the workplace. 

As a national, Disabled-led organisation with key policy and service provision in the areas of Disabled students and employment, DR UK submitted a response full of recommendations. The key points were as follows: 

  • A failing SEND system means Disabled children start at a substantial disadvantage.  

Before Disabled young people even reach the point of trying to access employment, their unequal access to education compared to their non-disabled peers has already put them substantially behind. 

  • The failure to prepare Disabled children for employment/further education leaves them unclear on their options.   

This includes not being able to access helpful or empowering careers advice, not being made aware of the support systems and rights in place in the world of work and delays in accessing benefits schemes such as Access to Work.  

  • Delayed identification and barriers to diagnosis lead to poorer outcomes.   

Those who are still waiting for assessments are often left unsure whether they are covered by the Equality Act and if they can ask for adjustments at work, despite potentially having been referred by a GP for an assessment half a decade ago. Delayed diagnosis can also mean that individuals aren’t sure yet what adjustments would be helpful for them, so feel even more so that they can’t ask for any.   

  • The ‘cliff-edge’ of support as a child becomes an adult. 

Across the board in public services, when Disabled children become adults, they often lose the support systems they have relied upon thus far in life. Changes in education, welfare, student finance, health and social care are not streamlined enough and the vast changes Disabled people will face should be supported prior to and during the transition. 

  • Barriers during transition aside, Disabled people experience disproportionate barriers to employment across the board.   

Whatever the age of a Disabled person, and whatever setting they’re in, we will always face disproportionate barriers to accessing work and staying in work. The systemic reasons for this are many, including but not limited to, discrimination in the workplace, facing barriers when trying to access transport and other public services, and employers refusing to implement the reasonable adjustments required to make our workplace accessible.   

It’s important to recognise, when assessing the additional barriers faced by Disabled people during the transition period from childhood to adulthood, that these additional barriers already sit in a systemically ableist context – consistently leading to less opportunities and worse outcomes for Disabled people.    

Bethany Bale, DR UK Education and Employment Policy and Campaigns Officer, said "The transition into adulthood and independent living is a stressful time for any young person - let alone Disabled young people who face disproportionate barriers and have likely had to rely more heavily on their support systems thus far in life.  

This transition is a time when support should be strengthened, not disappear entirely - which is all too often the common experience. The consequences of this are many - including poorer outcomes, less opportunities and at times a dangerous impact on the young person’s mental health.  

We’re glad to see the Public Services Committee have focused their inquiry on this vital, yet thoroughly under-researched, topic. It’s clear that our current system fails Disabled young people across the board, and we hope that the inquiry’s findings are the start of building greater awareness, better practice and stronger accountability.” 


Edit: Watch our oral evidence session from 6th December 2023, with the House of Lords Public Services Select Committee. 

DR UK's response to Lord's inquiry - The transition from education to employment for young disabled people