Disabled people are at a ‘significant disadvantage’ when looking for work compared to other workers, according to a new report published today by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The report, ‘Disability and Employment‘, found that employment rates among disabled people are on average 31% lower than for non-disabled workers.
Employment inequality is particularly prevalent among disabled women, the report says. The employment rate for disabled men is 36% lower than for non-disabled workers, but 39.5% lower for disabled women.
TUC’s report, published on the second day of the TUC’s annual Disabled Workers’ Conference, also highlights how people with mental health disabilities are the least likely to be in work of all disabled people.
One in five people in the Britain has a long-term health problem or disability which may limit their work capability.
However, the report says: “A worker with an impairment becomes disabled only when hit by artificial societal barriers created by environment, people’s attitudes, and workplaces.”
Action must be taken to address these issues and improve employment rates for disabled people, says the TUC.
The TUC recommends tailoring the Work Programme to better support disabled people into work, increased funding for the Access to Work scheme, renewing the Time to Change campaign and reforming the benefit sanctions regime to protect people with mental health disabilities.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Disabled people who are looking for a decent job need a government that’s on their side, not on their backs. But cuts to disability benefits and harsh benefit sanctions are preventing employment rates for disabled people improving as quickly as they could.
“Many more disabled people want to be in work, but are held back by problems like employer prejudice, additional costs to access work, and a benefits regime that’s too focussed on punishment instead of support.
“Disabled women face stronger barriers to accessing work than disabled men. Ministers should investigate why this gender gap exists, so that disabled women seeking help from schemes like the Work Programme and Access to Work can get support that’s better tailored to their needs.“