Social Security System "sanctions and demonises Disabled People" - DR UK responds to Employment Inquiry

Mon,8 April 2024
News Employment

Disability Rights UK has responded to the Work and Pensions Select Committee's Disability Employment Inquiry. You can read our full version below, and watch our oral evidence session on the 17th April at 10:25am. 

The inquiry asked seven questions regarding the employment of Disabled people. These ranged from questions on how we close the disability employment gap, and how successful current Government schemes are, to the impact of proposed reforms like the Back to Work Plan. 

DR UK highlighted the importance of taking a holistic approach to tackling inequalities, recognising that barriers to employment are systemic and intersecting. Barriers to accessing employment begin with no support in school leading to poorer outcomes, a higher rate of social exclusion and abuse, and a punitive social security system which sanctions and demonises Disabled people rather than supports them into work. 

We are also disproportionately at risk of falling into poverty and are hit the hardest by the Cost of Living Crisis. Barriers to adequate housing, social care and healthcare also exclude us from employment and society. The most recent UN investigation into the UK Government's violations of Disabled peoples' rights described our social security system as something that makes us “feel like criminals”, causes “trauma and preventable mental distress”, and “tells Disabled people they are underserving citizens.”

DR UK also challenged some of the questions asked in the inquiry - including those that wanted to know how employers can be incentivised to follow the Equality Act. The full list of challenges can be read in the response below. 

Bethany Bale, Employment Policy and Campaigns Officer at DR UK, said: "It's clear from Government policy that the problem being tackled is Disabled people, rather than the barriers we face. This is based on the assumption that we don't work when we could - and the way to increase employment levels is to force us into unsafe, unsustainable, and exploitative work. It's clear from the fact that the disability employment gap has barely reduced since 2019 that these punitive policies don't work, and the only way to close the disability employment gap is to remove the many systemic barriers that we face. Disabled people are not a scapegoat for a failing economy, we are a community who deserve improved opportunities and access to employment. If you agree with us, you can support the Disabled People's Manifesto."

Word doc - DR UK Response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s Disability Employment Inquiry

PDF - DR UK Response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s Disability Employment Inquiry