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Government abandons commitment to halve disability employment gap?

12 May 2016

The Government was elected on a manifesto commitment "disability employment gap" – the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people.

Commons select committee questions Stephen Crabb on the Secretary of State's role

Disability Rights UK is concerned that the Government may have abandoned this commitment.

In Budget 2016, the Government announced :

“Later this year, the government will publish a White Paper focusing on the roles that the health, care and welfare sectors can play in supporting disabled people and those with health conditions to get into and stay in work.”

Whilst this had been pushed back until after the EU referendum on 23 June, yesterday Work and Pensions Minister Stephen Crabbe downgraded plans for new legislation to support disabled people in to work.

Asked by the Work and Pensions Committee about progress on the Conservative manifesto commitment to halve the disability employment gap Mr Crabbe said that there was a need to “take a step back” with regards to a White Paper.

He said it was a personal priority to get more disabled people into employment. But he said this was a long-term reform and that a white paper, originally scheduled for the spring, would now be put on hold while he “pushed the reset button” and consulted charities and employers over the best way forward.

DR UK’s Deputy CEO Sue Bott said:

“The Government has an ambition to halve the employment gap between disabled people and everyone else. Are they abandoning this ambition?

They had planned to produce a White Paper on ways to reverse this gap; but now we are only to have a Green Paper which is merely a discussion piece rather than concrete proposals. Effectively kicking the issue in to the long grass for months, if not years.

Many Conservative MPs were only persuaded to vote for the £30 week ESA cut a few months ago on the promise of a White Paper this summer.

It is bad enough that the government spends so much of its time and resources on finding ways to deny us benefits and support but then not to put measures in place that would increase employment opportunities really is a double whammy for disabled people.  The fact is that it is only when we see a government seriously committed to equality will we get progress.

We call upon the Secretary of State to urgently confirm if he remains committed to halving the disability employment gap. ”