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UK Government Launches Strategy to Address Disability Employment Gap

UK Government Launches Strategy to Address Disability Employment Gap
03 August 2021
 

Boris Johnson has launched a new National Disability Strategy, including plans to consult on disability workforce reporting for businesses with more than 250 staff.

The strategy also includes proposals for an online work passport to help disabled students move seamlessly from education to work.

This is in response to the UK Disability Survey, which had over 14,000 respondents. The data showed many disabled people feel held back in their everyday lives by the negative attitudes of others, and by poorly designed public buildings and facilities.

 

"For the first time, we have real cross-government focus, with clearly set out priorities and aims. We are absolutely committed to putting disabled people at the heart of government policymaking and service delivery. Their voices, insights and experiences are central to this strategy and our future approach. By engaging disabled people, their families, carers and organisations, collectively we will deliver real and lasting change."

–Justin Tomlinson

Minister for Disabled People 

Inclusion in the Workplace

 

The strategy is focused on improving inclusion in the workplace, tackling the disability employment gap – currently at 28.6 per cent - and making sure children with special educational needs and disabilities are at the heart of the strategy, including: 

  • Consulting on introducing workforce reporting for businesses with more than 250 staff on the number of disabled people. A move designed to improve inclusive practice across the UK’s biggest employers and builds on existing gender reporting requirements
  • Increasing the number of disabled people employed by MI5, MI6, GCHQ, the Reservists and the civilian-military by 2030. MI6 has set an interim target of 9 per cent by 2025.
  • Launching a new online advice hub available to both disabled people and employers, which provides information and advice on disability discrimination in the workplace, flexible working and rights and obligations around reasonable adjustments. 
  • Investing £300 million to create places, improve existing provision in schools and make accessibility adaptations for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

 

The strategy will build on the Disability Discrimination Act which enshrined protections for disabled people when it comes to employment, transport, education and provision of goods and services.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: "For the first time, we have real cross-government focus, with clearly set out priorities and aims. We are absolutely committed to putting disabled people at the heart of government policymaking and service delivery. Their voices, insights and experiences are central to this strategy and our future approach. By engaging disabled people, their families, carers and organisations, collectively we will deliver real and lasting change."

 

Help for Those Leaving the Armed Forces

 

Additionally, the government are piloting an Access to Work Adjustments Passport to help smooth the transition into employment and support people changing jobs. Pilots will be taking place this year focussing on young people leaving education and veterans leaving the armed forces.

The Adjustments Passport will capture the in-work support needs of the individual and aim to empower them to have confident discussions about adjustments with employers.

It will also set an expectation with the employer that specialist aids and appliances move when their employee progresses in work or moves post.

ThisWeekinFM is hosting a not-for-profit event on Thursday 28th October from 2 pm to 6 pm exclusively for those that have left the Armed Forces and seeking a new challenge.

The aim of this event is to promote the huge number of opportunities for service leavers within FM, in conjunction with a small showcase of companies operating across these industries.


Register Your Interest

 

 

Stuart Finnie, Regional Director of Design at workplace creation experts Unispace, commented that measures must go beyond being able to access the physical building, as not all disabilities are visible:

“Organisations must design workspaces and maintain cultures that facilitate individual accessibility needs in the workplace. This can be done through intelligent design solutions, from accessible entries, optimising lighting for productivity and ease of working, managing noise levels and providing adaptable workstations. Technology plays a crucial role too.

"‘Accessibility Tech’ is big news with personalised, app-based software changing the future landscape of the workplace, while investment in accessibility hardware, such as touchless entry and speech recognition systems, are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our office spaces. The key to success is making sure that these design considerations work in harmony with the space without looking like an afterthought.”

Picture: a photograph of two people sitting at a desk. One person is a wheelchair-user and one person is wearing compression gloves Image Credit: Chona Kasinger for Disabled And Here

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 03 August 2021

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