A London charity has received £248,000 in funding to help the capital’s businesses make their jobs and services more accessible for disabled people.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable arm, awarded the money to Business Disability Forum in Southwark, as part of an £845,000 package of charity grants supporting London’s disabled people.

Business Disability Forum will provide all SMEs in London with free access to an online self-assessment tool to help them identify changes they can make to improve their business for disabled employees and customers.

The money will also pay for free disability advice and guidance on attracting, retaining and supporting disabled employees. And firms will plug in to a free business network to learn from each other’s experiences.

There are over 11 million disabled people living in the UK. London’s disability employment rate is only 51.4%, compared to 89.9% for non-disabled people, although disability employment rates have risen by 5% over the last ten years.

A recent report published by the TUC* shows that disabled people earn substantially less than their non-disabled peers – with the pay gap having increased over the last 12 months.

The report concludes that the pay gap and low wages contributes significantly to the financial stress experienced by disabled workers, whilst disabled women continue to face the most significant pay gaps of all.

As part of its £845,000 charity funding package, City Bridge Trust has awarded grants to five other charities supporting disabled people in London.

They include:

  • £198,900 to Harrow Association of Disabled People, to pay for a new autism mentoring service
  • £130,500 to Share Community, to deliver vocational training and employability schemes for disabled people through arts, sports and recreational services
  • £100,000 to Research Institute for Disabled Consumers to provide information and help for disabled and older people to choose the right products and services
  • £84,800 to Centre 404 to support people with learning difficulties to get more involved in community activities in Islington, London
  • £83,000 to Action Space London Events in Newham, to support the development of artists with learning disabilities

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“The Business Disability Forum is doing vital work in helping businesses to improve the experience of disabled employees and customers.

“And our package of funding will give London’s business the tools and knowledge they need to improve the lives of the disabled community.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to funding charities working hard to tackle inequality in London, work which will really make an impact and change thousands of lives.”

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said:

“The disability employment gap remains deeply entrenched, with disabled people being far less likely to be in paid employment than their non-disabled peers.

“SMEs form the bulk of the capital’s employers, so are key to changing this, but they are also currently the hardest to reach.

“Having worked directly with employers for almost 30 years to transform the life experiences of disabled people as employees and consumers, we want to share that learning with the London SME community”

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City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

Its ‘Bridge to Work’ programme, which launched in 2017, is a £3.3million scheme opening up a wealth of new employment opportunities for young disabled Londoners. This ground-breaking programme seeks to narrow the employment gap for young disabled people by providing financial backing for organisations tackling the issue.

The Trust has awarded around 8,000 grants totalling over £400 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

Notes to editors

About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

About City Bridge Trust

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of Bridge House Estates, a Registered Charity, with its primary aim the maintenance and support of five Thames bridges: Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark, Blackfriars and the Millennium footbridge.

City Bridge Trust was established in 1995 to make use of funds surplus to bridge requirements and provides grants totalling around £20m per year towards charitable activity benefitting Greater London. The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of the Bridge House Estates.

About the Business Disability Forum

Business Disability Forum is a leading non-profit membership organisation which exists to transform the life chances of disabled people. With almost 30 years’ experience, the organisations work to provide pragmatic support, expertise, advice, training and networking opportunities to help organisations get better at recruiting and retaining disabled employees and serving disabled customers. Ultimately helping businesses remove barriers and harness the talent and spending power of disabled people. For more information, please visit http://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/about-us/

*(https://www.tuc.org.uk/researchanalysis/ reports/disability-employment-and-pay-gaps-2019)

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