The rise in working from home has opened doors for disabled job seekers across the UK, allowing them to make inroads into the workplace; however, the Government’s commitment to ensuring that workers go back to work may close those doors.
If the Chancellor and the Government do not set out specific measures to help disabled jobseekers and workers, then the risk of unemployment will continue to plague the disabled community.
Responding to the Chancellor’s new jobs package, announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review today, Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said: “We welcome the job support measures announced, today, to help the long term unemployed and young people to find work. But we ask the Chancellor to clarify how much additional support will be made available for disabled job seekers.
“Disabled people are far less likely to be in paid employment than their non-disabled peers – even before the pandemic. And research from Citizens Advice shows that disabled people are at far greater risk of redundancy.”
Sunak’s economic plan for the next year includes nearly £3 billion being allocated towards a “re-start programme” for job seekers who are out of work for more than a year. However, the programme makes no accommodations for disabled Britons who will face more barriers in employment and the job market than their able-bodied peers.
Lightfoot continues: “Support for disabled job seekers needs to be tailored and address the very specific barriers which many disabled candidates experience, from inaccessible recruitment processes to a lack of line manager awareness. We also need to see an increase in the numbers of Job Centre staff with experience in supporting disabled people to find employment and up-to-date training on the skills that employers are currently seeking.
“We would also urge the Government to make better use of existing schemes, such as Access to Work. The scheme can provide vital support for disabled people in securing employment, but many employers tell us they are reluctant to use the scheme because it is inflexible and difficult to engage with. The Government must also review the current Access to Work cap which disproportionately disadvantages those who rely on human support to carry out a role.
“The Chancellor committed today to giving everyone a chance to meet their potential. Disabled job seekers need some reassurance that that promise also applies to them.”