This is an important week for the more than one million disabled people across the UK who want to work but are currently unable to.
That’s because the Government has just set out its plan on how it aims to support more disabled people to enter and stay in work.
This is a welcome moment in parliament, and a reminder to the Westminster Village that while talk of Brexit and gloomy budgets is fashionable and headline-grabbing, announcements such as the Prime Minister’s this week are equally important.
The pledge to get a million more disabled people into work is an important gesture but this publication needs to lead to swift action to make this a reality.
At Scope, we know employment can be a lifeline for disabled people. It’s vital in bringing about everyday equality and it’s vital to disabled people’s independence.
Yet as we face economic growth forecasts being revised down and productivity levels remaining stubbornly low, new thinking is needed on how we address the problem.
Unleashing the potential of disabled employees is one way of doing this. There are one million disabled people who can and want to work. Yet too many face barriers to entering, staying and progressing in work. And for a decade, the gap between the employment rate of disabled people and non-disabled people has been at a standstill.
This is a huge waste of disabled people’s talent and potential. It’s bad for disabled people and bad for business.
The Government has made some important acknowledgements as to what needs to change – the Work Capability Assessment, Access to Work, tailored employment support, personal employment support budgets and flexibility for employers. And it’s committed to report annual on progress.
But the pace of change is never quick enough and real reform of the WCA through legislation is needed. The Prime Minister has said she is committed to tackling the ‘injustices that face disabled people who want to work’
It will be our job over the next three years to hold Government to their promises and ensure the consultations announced amount to the real change that is needed.