The government is considering how it can better support employers to help prevent people with a health condition or disability falling out of work.
It has published a consultation into measures that it hopes will reduce the disability employment gap and improve the benefits system for those who are able to work in some capacity.
The measures proposed in the Shaping future support: the health and disability green paper include:
- Improving employment support though schemes such as Access to Work and the Work and Health Programme so that more people can start, stay and succeed in work, including exploring how employment support and health services can be joined up
- Improving the support for, and expectations of, employers, to help prevent people with a health condition or disability leaving the workforce
- Improving signposting to wider services at an early stage of a person’s benefits claim. In particular, it wants to improve signposting to health service so that people are better able to access treatment and support.
Minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson said: “I am incredibly pleased that in the course of putting this consultation together, we have been able to identify key themes for improvement.
“We already spend a record amount supporting disabled people and people with health conditions, and have made good progress at supporting more disabled people into work but we are ambitious for further improvement – and I am grateful to the disabled people and stakeholders who have contributed so far.”
Joining up welfare and employment is vital to closing the disability employment gap, said Angela Matthews, head of policy at the Business Disability Forum.
“Too often, disabled people have been presented with an unrealistic ‘either or’ option by the welfare system, which assumes that people are either out of work and claiming benefits or in work and able to cover all their costs through their earnings,” said Matthews.
“In reality, many disabled people in employment need to rely on welfare in some way. This may be because their condition only makes it possible for them to work part-time, or because they need to meet the additional costs incurred through having a disability.
“We welcome the green paper’s acknowledgement of the need to address additional costs and the financial discrimination experienced by disability people through the very nature of having a disability. It is unacceptable that disabled people have to spend more to live equal lives.”
The consultation is open for responses until 11 October 2021. The government will also run a series of consultation events with people with disabilities and health conditions, and their representatives.