Today we published a new report exploring disabled people’s working lives. The report – ‘A million futures’ – shows that last year alone, 220,000 more disabled people fell out of work than found a new job.
We wanted to explore why disabled people are struggling to stay in jobs.
Our new research with hundreds of disabled people found that a lack of flexibility in the workplace is a critical issue.
“I, like thousands of others, fall into the grey area of too disabled to hold down a job without health implications, yet not disabled enough to get help from the Government.” – Sarah, Isle of Wight
Nearly half (48%) of the 700 respondents to a Scope survey said that flexible working time and practices could have helped them stay in work.
Many disabled people told us that a key benefit of flexible working is that it can allow them to manage changes in their lives related to disability, or to manage a fluctuating condition, or recover from treatment.
Yet our survey found that only one in three had been offered the flexibility they needed.
“If I’d been given the opportunity, I could have sat down with them and said ‘look, this is what I’m capable of doing, this is what would help me get back into the workplace” – Jane, West Midlands
As a result, too many disabled people and their families find themselves relying on taking sick leave to manage this need for flexibility – often against their wishes.
Over half (60%) of those on long-term sick leave are disabled people. Once in sick leave, it can be very difficult to return to work.
Providing better support for disabled people must be a priority for Government and employers – and can bring benefits for everyone.
For those disabled people who are able to continue working, it means they can continue working, contributing, and taking home a pay packet.
Employers are able to keep hold of the knowledge, experience and contacts that often experienced disabled people can bring.
Crucially, better in-work support can bring benefits to the Government, by rebalancing spending on expensive programmes back to supporting those in work.
Find out more about our previous reports: