The long-awaited Government green paper ‘Improving lives’, launched on Monday.
In 2010, the Government pledged to half the disability employment gap, given that in the UK less than half (48%) of disabled people are in employment compared to 80% of the non-disabled population. This gap is even broader for people that Sense supports with more complex needs, including deafblindness – just 20% of working aged people who are deafblind are in employment, and just 4% of people who are deafblind and aged between 18 and 24 are employed.
The ‘Improving lives’ green paper sets out the Government’s policy proposals to encourage and support more disabled people into employment in line with their pledge.
It focuses on how to increase support for disabled people to enter employment, improve work-related benefit assessments, and better support employers to employ more disabled people.
The green paper is an opportunity for debate and discussion around Government proposals as these are not set in stone, so there is scope to influence what we’d like to see happen going forward.
It is accessible via the Government’s website, and is available in braille, audio, BSL and easy read.
What does the green paper mean for Sense?
Sense have been working to make sure the views of people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs are heard in the Government’s disability employment strategy.
For our recent report, Realising aspirations for all, we spoke to people who are deafblind about their experiences of employment. They highlighted key issues with Access to Work, poor support from existing employment support programmes and Jobcentre Plus, and preconceived ideas from employers about the abilities of disabled people in the workplace.
The green paper has some suggested proposals on increasing employer engagement with recruiting disabled people and changes to employment support programmes and Jobcentre Plus. Sense will work with the Government to make sure these turn into concrete proposals that benefit all those who wish to work.
However, there is still more to be done and some questions remain outstanding. We will also push the Government to look at:
- What measures will be taken to make sure Access to Work adequately supports people with more complex needs
- Sufficient engagement with voluntary partners to capture specialist knowledge for all disabilities
- Reversing the damaging cuts to ESA, given the person-centred approach of the Green Paper
- Extending the welcome initiative to abolish ESA reassessments to related benefits, such as Personal Independent Payments (PIP)
- Taking note of cross-learnings and avoiding mistakes made in benefits such as PIP in ESA reform, such as learnings from health assessments.
How can your voice be heard?
You can respond to the Government consultation via their website.
Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or send in a response by post:
The Work, Health and Disability Consultation,
Ground Floor, Caxton House,
6-12 Tothill Street,
Sense would also like to hear from you if you are happy to share your experiences. We are particularly interested in hearing about your experiences with the Work Capability Assessment, Employment and Support Allowance, Access to Work, Jobcentre Plus and contact with employers.
If you would like to be involved, please email email@example.com or telephone 0300 330 9258.