Social care provider Dimensions and think-tank Demos are to host a debate on creating sustainable employment for people with disabilities at the Conservative Party Conference in October.

The debate, ‘Within our grasp: creating sustainable employment for disabled people’, will discuss the latest thinking on new and innovative ways to help disabled people into work. The keynote speaker will be new Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey. Other speakers will include Rob Grieg, CEO of the National Development Team for Inclusion and Sarah Pashley, who will provide the perspective of a person with a learning disability who was supported into employment.

Steve Scown, CEO of Dimensions, who will also be on the debate panel, said: “Unemployment rates among disabled people have remained stubbornly high; even before the economic downturn 50% of disabled people were in work compared to 80% of non-disabled people. At the same time, 65% of people with a learning disability, for example, want to work.

“Creating sustainable employment for people with disabilities is a key issue for government and social care providers. Their rhetoric about personalisation and supporting people to have more choice and control over their lives cannot become a reality without firm action to make work both accessible and desirable for people that currently feel excluded.”

Claudia Wood, deputy director of Demos, who will be chairing the debate, said: “With an objective to radically reduce welfare spending - in particular disability unemployment benefit - the government has increased its focus on tackling disability unemployment. This debate will explore whether the current mainstream offer, through the Work Programme and Work Choice, is enough to crack this intractable problem.”

The debate will take place Tuesday, October 9 at 6pm at the Jurys Inn in Birmingham and is open to members of the media and public. You will be able follow the debate through Dimensions’ Twitter feed: or use the hashtag #demosdisability.