Yesterday the Government launched “Improving Lives”, a consultation on proposals around disability, health and work.
We know that disabled people are twice as likely as the general public to be unemployed and just 48 per cent of disabled people are in work, compared to 80 per cent of the wider population.
The difference between the two rates, known as the disability employment gap, has stood at roughly the same level for more than a decade.
We have been calling on the Government to deliver on its commitment to halve the disability employment gap, and to deliver a strategy that tackles the barriers disabled people face in and out of work.
Today, the Government have published some proposals on how to address this. The question is will these proposals translate to meaningful legislative and policy change?
What is “Improving Lives”?
Improving Lives is a Green Paper, which essentially means the Government wants to find out about and discuss an issue with the public before deciding on any action.
Improving Lives is a document about improving the support available to disabled people in and out of work. The Government are looking at the following areas:
- The support people need to get into work
- The support working disabled people might need
- Assessments for out of work benefits and employment support
- The role of employers in recruiting and supporting disabled employees
- Health and care for people both in and out of work
You can read Improving Lives in full on the Government website. It’s also available in in easy read, BSL, audio and braille formats.
The consultation is open from 31 October 2016 until Friday 17 February 2017.
What do we think about the Green Paper?
It’s right that the Government is consulting on support for disabled people in and out of work. We welcome some proposals, including working more closely with employers, challenging attitudes and halving the disability employment gap.
However, we’re concerned that the Government is considering extending requirements to look for jobs and attend employment programmes to people in the support group of ESA.
Not every disabled person should be expected to work, and everyone’s contribution to society should be recognised regardless of whether they work or not.
We want to see specialist employment support made available to all disabled people who want to work, for this to be voluntary, and for it to not impact on any financial support.
We’re also concerned about previous decisions to take £30 a week from new claimants placed in the WRAG group. Reducing disabled people’s incomes won’t incentivise people to find a job. It will just make life harder. We’ll be urging government to rethink this cut, as part of our response to the Green Paper published yesterday.
The paper sets out some important questions about reform to the fit for work test, accessing employment support and making workplaces more inclusive.
However, this document is just the first step. At Scope we want to see meaningful consultation with disabled people lead to real policy, legal and attitudinal change. There remains a huge amount of work to be done to tackle the barriers disabled people face entering and staying in work. It’s vital that the whole Government now listens to disabled people’s views on how to do this.
How can I get involved?
You can respond to the consultation using the Department of Health Consultation Hub website.
If you would prefer, you can respond by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by post:
The Work, Health and Disability Consultation,
Ground Floor, Caxton House,
6-12 Tothill Street,
What is Scope going to do?
Scope will put together a response to the consultation.
As part of this, we’d like to hear from disabled people about their experiences with things like claiming ESA, taking part in employment support programmes and getting support while at work.
We’ll put out more information on how to get involved over the coming weeks, but in the meantime if you’d like to get involved please contact Mel Wilkes, a Policy Adviser on email@example.com