Esther McVeyThe government has launched its disability and health employment strategy, but a consortium of charities says that it needs to go further to address the issues that people with disabilities face.

The strategy looks at what can be done for employers and individuals, to enable more disabled people and people with health conditions to have a career.

Proposals include:

  Supporting employers to recruit, retain and develop disabled people and people with health conditions through a new offer including a ‘One Stop Shop’ and revamped Disability Symbol 

Enabling more young disabled people and people with health conditions to make a successful transition from education to employment, enabling high aspirations through initiatives such as role models and knowledge packs

Developing a new gateway to employment services to ensure that people get the right support at the right time to enable them to get into or back into work

Improving specialist employment support by ensuring that it includes greater personalisation, better integration of local services, better use of local providers and a greater focus on supported employment

Improving mainstream employment support by developing the evidence base about what is most effective in supporting them into employment

Developing more effective approaches for supporting people with mental health problems to get into work, focusing particularly on better alignment between employment and health services and building on the proposals outlined by the Task and Finish Group and the Psychological Wellbeing and Work project.

Employment Minister, Esther McVey, said: “This strategy is a really important step in the discussion about what we need to do to ensure employers understand the benefits of hiring disabled people and people with health conditions, and that people get the right individualised support from the government.”

Disability Minister, Mike Penning, added: “I’m proud that the UK is a world leader in disability rights, as demonstrated by our Disability Confident campaign to support employers and businesses to employ more disabled people. Being disability confident means recruiting, promoting and retaining a diverse and talented workforce. If employers are not disability confident, they risk overlooking a wealth of talent.

“However, there is a still a long way to go. Looking at what people can do is the key to how we change perceptions of disability and ill health in our country. It is how we will increase the employment opportunities for disabled people in Britain and break down the barriers to work.”

Paul Farmer, chair of the Disability Charities Consortium, which comprises Mencap, Scope, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mind, RADAR, RNIB and Action on Hearing Loss, welcomed the proposals, but said they did not go far enough. 

“Disabled people want to work, but face huge challenges finding and keeping jobs,” he said. “Barriers such as negative attitudes from recruiters and employers and a lack of workplace flexibility, make the labour market a daunting place.

“[These] proposals are welcome, especially a recognition of the importance of mental health, and it's right that the Government recognises the importance of employment in disabled people's lives.

“But the scale of the challenges disabled people face requires a step change that goes beyond these recommendations.

“Twice as many young disabled people are not in employment, education or training as their peers, and half of disabled people aren't employed.

“We need clarity on the future of Work Choice and the Work Programme. And we need to ensure disabled people can be supported to find work, earn a decent wage, and live more independent lives.

“Our experience shows that a personalised approach is needed, both for disabled job seekers and potential employers.”