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Call for PM to tackle disability employment gap

Business leaders have backed a call for the prime minister to deliver on his promise of a truly transformative National Strategy for Disabled People.

In an open letter to Boris Johnson, business leaders including Post Office CEO, Nick Read, Schroders CEO, Peter Harrison, and Clifford Chance global managing partner, Matthew Layton, have urged him to deliver an ambitious and transformative disability plan that ensures all disabled people are able to realise their full potential.

The letter is supported by the CSJ Disability Commission, an independent body, which is about to publish ‘Now Is The Time’, a report designed to feed into the Prime Minister’s National Strategy.

One of the CSJ Disability Commission’s five key recommendations is to reduce the disability employment gap by introducing mandatory workforce reporting, which it believes is a vital step in bringing greater transparency and a level playing field for measuring progress.

Lord Shinkwin, commission chair, said: ‘Disabled people have been waiting an awfully long time for this.

‘We really hope the Prime Minister will listen and build our recommendations into his upcoming National Strategy for Disabled People.

‘As the PM has said, his strategy is a once in a generation opportunity.  It is vital that we seize it and chart a new course that is more than just warm words. Now is the time for action.’

Business leaders have today called on the prime minister to deliver on his promise of a truly transformative National Strategy for Disabled People.

In an open letter, more than a dozen senior business leaders have urged Boris Johnson to keep his promise to make it the most ambitious disability plan in a generation and to consider the CSJ Disability Commission’s ground-breaking new report.

Agreeing with the PM that there should be no barriers to anyone realising their full potential, they have explicitly linked the success of the Strategy to his flagship levelling-up agenda, which promises to increase opportunity across the UK.

Disabled people have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 according to the ONS and concerted action by the government and business is crucial to reducing the disability employment gap, which has widened as a result of the pandemic.

Currently, just 52% of disabled people are in employment compared with 81 per cent of non-disabled people.

The CSJ Disability Commission makes five key recommendations to reduce the gap:

  • Increasing supported routes into employment
  • Introducing mandatory employment and pay gap reporting
  • Leveraging Government procurement
  • Reforming the Government’s Disability Confident scheme
  • Reforming the Government’s Access to Work scheme

The Commission’s report argues a central feature of the Government’s National Strategy for Disabled People must be the inclusion of robust measures focused on improving disabled people’s employment prospects. It argues that until employment disadvantage is addressed, disabled people will continue to face social exclusion, financial hardship, and reduced well-being.

The CSJ Disability Commission is chaired by disabled Conservative member of the House of Lords, Kevin Shinkwin and comprised of both disabled and non-disabled members from the business, disability and parliamentary world.

Lord Shinkwin said: ‘The Prime Minister’s strategy represents a once in a generation chance to chart a new way forward where disabled people’s potential to contribute, compete and, in some cases, excel and reach the top of their professions, on merit, can at last be realised.

‘We have one shot at this – that’s why it’s so important his strategy gets it right. What makes this even more exciting is that big business is ready to get behind him.’

The Commission’s report is especially relevant now as data reveals that disabled people have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic – in physical health, mental health, and economically – compared to non-disabled people.

Importantly, the report extends beyond employment to cover four other areas of life for disabled people: transport, education, housing, and access to goods & services.

It makes extensive policy recommendations which, if enacted, would substantially increase the ability of disabled people to participate more fully in society and realise their potential.

Tanni, Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, gold medal-winning former Paralympian and a Commissioner, said: ‘Despite the very welcome improvements in legislation since the Disability Discrimination Act, the experience of the last 25 years shows that laws on their own aren’t enough.

‘The political will to enforce them is crucial. Right now, disabled people feel that we’re going backwards. That’s why we really need the PM to keep his promise of a transformative strategy and drive change from the front.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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