During my first weeks as Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, I’ve seen some of the excellent work underway to improve employment opportunities for disabled people. I continue to hear from employers across the country who are creating more inclusive workplaces and ensuring they don’t miss out on the full range of talent.
What I find particularly inspiring is the individual people behind the numbers – disabled employees who are thriving in the workplace thanks to a supportive environment and small adjustments that help them to do their job. Many employers already have a strong track record in this area, which is why we are encouraging a business to business approach where organisations can learn from each other.
A range of government support is on offer from our Access to Work service, which provides disabled people with support or adjustments they need in the workplace, to the Disability Confident scheme, which helps employers do more to recruit and retain disabled workers. To date more than 5,500 employers have signed up to Disability Confident. Across the country, there are almost 600,000 more disabled people in work than there were in 2013. I’m determined to build on this so that everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential and inspire others to do the same.
While we have made progress on disability employment rates in recent years, there’s still much more to do. Last October the Government consulted through our Work, Health and Disability Green Paper on what needs to be done to support more disabled people into employment. We asked for views from disabled people, employers, charities and others on how we can change attitudes among employers as well as improving local services so that we can break down the barriers disabled people still face in the labour market.
In November we launched our bold 10 year vision to see one million more disabled people who want to work, in work, by 2027. Our strategy on the future of work, health and disability brings together employers, the welfare system and health services. We will not only support disabled people and people with health conditions to enter work, but also focus on preventing people from having to leave employment by supporting them to stay in work. No two people are the same and we will be testing and evaluating new approaches to find out what works best.
We all have a part to play in creating the culture change that’s needed. Only by working together will we be able to ensure that everyone who wants to work, can work, whilst enjoying the social, economic and health benefits that good work can bring.
Sarah Newton, MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work,
Sarah spoke at the ERSA annual conference on December 7th 2017.