A young disabled woman in a powered wheelchair

How can the next government improve disabled people’s work opportunities?

We want the next government to deliver Everyday Equality with disabled people. It must put the interests of disabled people at the heart of its agenda, and deliver meaningful change over the next five years to tackle the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in society.

One area where disabled people face challenges is employment. We know that many disabled people want to work and are pushing hard to find jobs, but many continue to face huge barriers. Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. 

That’s why we  are calling on the next government to improve disabled people’s work opportunities.

Halving the disability employment gap

The latest labour force stats show that 49 per cent of disabled people are in work compared to 80 per cent of non-disabled people. This difference is known as the disability employment gap, which has stood at over 30 percentage points for over a decade.

The recent Green Paper on Work, Health and Disability was a useful opportunity to begin to identify how to tackle the barriers disabled people face to entering, staying and progressing in work. It is vital that the next government builds upon the feedback and ideas shared through this consultation.

Text on infographic reads: Disabled people are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people

A failure to address this is a missed opportunity. Our research shows that a 10 percentage point rise in the employment rate among working-age disabled people would generate £12 billion for the Exchequer by 2030 and see an increase in Gross Domestic Product of £45 billion.

We want the next government to halve the disability employment gap, and set out how it will measure progress towards this goal through public reporting.

Improving support for disabled people both in and out of work

Too often, disabled people who want to work don’t get the right support. This means that disabled people either struggle to move into employment, or else once in work, risk losing their job.

Reform is needed if we are to see a meaningful increase in disability employment.

That’s why we want the next government to improve the support that disabled people receive in and out of work.

This needs to include:

  • Reform of the Work Capability Assessment: The current assessment for out-of-work benefit for disabled people is not fit for purpose. We want to see a new assessment that takes a “real world” approach to identifying the range of employment barriers a disabled person faces, and the support needed to overcome these.
  • End Jobcentre requirements: Some disabled people who don’t meet Jobcentre requirements to prepare or look for work face sanctions. These only make life harder for disabled people, which is why we want to see an end to benefit sanctions.
  • Expand Access to Work: The next government should expand this scheme so that more disabled people can access the specialist support and resources they need to do their jobs and stay in work.
  • Reform of statutory sick pay: We want to see changes to the way sick pay is paid, so that disabled people have more flexibility in managing their impairment or condition whilst at work, or when returning to work after a period of absence.

Providing better employment guidance and support to young disabled people

Too many young disabled people are not getting the guidance and support they need to move into and prepare for work. For instance, in our research with young disabled social care users, 60 per cent of respondents said they are not currently receiving the information and advice they want about employment.

We want the next government to improve the provision of careers advice, work experience, and opportunities for apprenticeships for young disabled people.

Tell us what would help to improve your work opportunities

You can read more about our priorities for the next government and how you can register to vote in this election.

What would help you to find and stay in employment? Email the stories team and tell us your experience – stories@scope.org.uk 

You can also join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #EverydayEquality.

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