Disabled people falling out of employment at “alarming” rates, says national disability charity
Leonard Cheshire is calling for the UK Government to introduce new measures that will ensure previous commitments to tackle the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people are realised.
The news comes ahead of the Queen’s speech next week as the charity highlights that disabled people are falling out of employment at “alarming” rates.
According to Leonard Cheshire, around 7.7 million people of working age in the UK are disabled or have a long-term health condition. However, just over half are in employment, despite overall UK employment rates being at more than 80 percent.
Whilst there has been some progress, remarks the charity, the overall gap in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people shows little sign of being closed significantly.
Leonard Cheshire is now calling for a stronger and more coordinated approach by the Government – including changes to legislation and a revolution in the support available to employers – if ambitions are to translate into reality for disabled people.
Neil Heslop, Chief Executive at Leonard Cheshire, said: “Government needs to match the rhetoric with clarity on its commitments to disabled people.
“Having a talented group of people not getting jobs or falling out of work damages individuals, families and is a huge loss to the economy.
“We need hard hitting measures backed by the full powers of the State. The disability employment gap has been a badge of failure for successive occupants of Number 10. It flies in the face of ambitions for a post Brexit inclusive economy.
“After many false dawns the government must get a handle on this issue in the same way other social injustices and discrimination have been tackled.”
In addition, the disability charity says reporting on disability employment should be mandatory to shine a spotlight on disability employment rates so that companies are accountable.
A recent parliamentary question for the charity by Daniel Zeichner MP revealed the Government does not hold information on the overall number of disabled people leaving work because of their disability or long-term health condition. This is despite seven in 10 disabled people telling Leonard Cheshire earlier this year that they had done so.
Vinny, from Liverpool, stopped working due to a health condition. Vinny said: “I was rendered medically retired because they didn’t know what else to do with me. I didn’t fit into their structures. Developing understanding in the workplace is a cultural shift and one that needs to accelerate now.”