Government research has confirmed what people with disabilities have long known – they face major barriers both to enter the work-place and, just as importantly, stay within it.
The Life Opportunities Survey by the Government’s Office for Disability Issues found people with disabilities were almost twice as likely as the able-bodied not to be able to work, have a holiday or take study courses.
The research is the first official survey of the disabled since 1997, and polled 18,000 people on the barriers they faced in life.
Almost one-fifth of the disabled adults polled said they felt so stressed that work was beyond them, compared with just 4% of the general population. One in eight did not feel confident enough to venture on to a long-distance train, compared with just one in 50 able-bodied people.
And, in a potentially embarrassing timetabling clash, the study was published at the same time as the Government unveiled plans to overhaul the main benefit for people with disabilities, disability living allowance with a new benefit, personal independence payment, which will have tighter eligibility criteria.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in December also announced changes to the Access to Work scheme, which is designed to help people with disabilities into work, including requiring larger employers to make a bigger contribution to workplace adjustments or adaptations.
The move to make larger employers contribute more meant smaller employers would have to contribute less and the micro employers would be exempt, the DWP stressed.
It also issued new guidance to Access to Work advisers to “ensure consistent decisions around what equipment employers should reasonably be expected to provide to any of their workers”, arguing that this would free resources “to support workers with more extensive or specialist needs”.
Jobseekers with disabilities will now also need to complete an online questionnaire through the government portal Directgov to find out if they are eligible for the benefit.