We respond to Govt disability employment strategy

Mon,16 December 2013

Disability Rights UK urges Government to invest in the employment support disabled people want and need.

The Government has issued its disability employment strategy - “The Discussions So Far”. With over 3 million disabled people out of work, getting this right is vital to large numbers of disabled people and our families.

Disability Rights UK (DR UK) welcomes in principle the proposed new gateway to employment support that is designed to enable disabled people to get employment support much more quickly than now. “At present people who are out of work due to disability first have to go through the deeply distrusted Work Capability Assessment with its often long-drawn out wrong decisions, delays and appeals; and meanwhile get no help at all with employment. The new gateway could stop the long waits and loss of confidence, by giving at least some people a chance to get tangible help to get a job,” said Chief Executive Liz Sayce. A one stop shop for advice to employers at the point they need it, as in Australia, is also welcome. 

However much depends on what is on offer after the gateway. Our survey of over 500 disabled people found over three quarters want more say over their support, so it suits their particular individual needs; with peer support and mentoring - learning from disabled people and others already in employment (See our report Taking Control of Employment Support at http://disabilityrightsuk.org/policy-campaigns/reports-and-research/taking-control-employment-support). These are not usually on offer. They are mentioned in the Strategy but Liz Sayce said 'We need a solid, funded plan for personalised and peer support. They could be a cost effective way of supporting more disabled people than now and need investment. This form of support could and should be run through disabled people's own organisations.”

Disconcertingly the document also refers to rationing specialist employment support. Liz Sayce pointed to the distress of those for whom there will be insufficient resources to resolve their unemployment: “If the Government is serious about increasing the number of disabled people in employment it must increase investment. This country should not be providing the necessary support only to the selected few.”

Many of the proposals in the Government’s strategy need more development. Disability Rights UK will be keen to feed in our experience and will want to see a system based on self directed support, peer support and strong advice to employers to ensure adjustments are made to the world of work. Disabled people can only participate if the working environment is genuinely inclusive for all.

Notes to Editors 

  • Government disability employment strategy discussion paper called “Discussion so far” can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-disability-and-health-employment-strategy-the-discussion-so-far
  • Disability Rights UK, contact Philip J Connolly Policy and Communications Manager on 07706 643667
  • The funding available for specialist disability employment support is around £350 million a year. Considering there are over 3 million disabled people out of work that works out at less than £120 each. The strategy responds to the shortfall by proposing rationing: focusing resources on (for instance) those people with high motivation or facing particular barriers.