Jobs: ‘Give more employment choice to disabled people’

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A review of employment support for disabled people has concluded that help should be focused on the individual instead of the institution.

Liz Sayce, the chief executive of disability rights group RADAR, recommended changes to government policy to support disabled people to work in any role in any sector – rather than in segregated employment.

The Sayce review recommends doubling the numbers of people able to use Access to Work – which gives financial help for support workers, interpreters, equipment and other practical support to enable disabled people to keep and get jobs.

It recommends raising the overall numbers securing specialist disability support to 100,000 within existing resources, with further expansion longer-term.

Liz Sayce said: “The work aspirations of disabled people have changed. Again and again disabled people – especially young disabled people – said they wanted the same choice of jobs as everyone else – in every sector from hairdressing to engineering, from apprenticeships to work experience, from self employment to co-ops and employee to director.

“That is why I am recommending empowering disabled people and employers by opening up Access to Work, widening access to information and peer support and ensuring support can go with the individual, from job to job, equipping disabled people for the economy of today and tomorrow. Young people do not expect a job for life – so we need to design support that can go with the individual, from job to job.

“There was also a total consensus among disabled people’s organisations and charities that segregated employment is not a model for the 21st century. Instead in-work support like Access to Work is the right way to support disabled people so that those acquiring disability can keep their jobs; and those entering work can work in any sector they choose.”

Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller who commissioned the report, said: “This review is about spending money differently, not cutting it. The amount of money going into employment services for disabled people is already being protected.”

The review was set up to look at employment support available for disabled people and shows:

> Around 50 per cent of disabled people are out of work and those that are in work often work far below their potential.

> Around 300,000 people leave work each year through disability or health conditions and go on to incapacity benefits. Many would prefer to keep their job.

> Closing the employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people would also boost the economy by £13bn.

> There was consensus among disabled people’s organisations and charities that segregated employment is not a model for the 21st century.

Dr Rachel Perkins, who chairs Equality 2025, said: “We need a system that supports individuals to get any job we choose: after all who wants to pack boxes just because you are disabled?”

Mark Goldring CBE, Chief Executive Mencap, said: “With modest help it is possible for many more people to work in open employment alongside their non disabled colleagues. This is the way that policy and practice should take us.”