Boris Johnson urged to tackle the increasing disability gap

24 March 2021

A variety of senior business leaders have called on Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to address, and start fixing, the growing disability employment gap.

An open letter addressed to the PM urged him to uphold his promise of delivering a transformative National Strategy for Disabled People. 

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has only served to worsen the gap, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It is noted that at present, only 52% of disabled people are in employment, as opposed to 81% of non-disabled people. Data also demonstrates that disabled people have suffered disproportionately throughout the pandemic – not just economically, but also in both their physical and mental health.

The CSJ Disability Commission Chair, Lord Shinkwin, 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.

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 makes five key recommendations directed at reducing the disability gap, as follows:

  • As previously referenced, employment and pay gap reporting should be made mandatory
  • There should be an increase in supporting routes into employment
  • The Government’s Access to Work scheme should be reformed
  • The Government’s Disability Confident scheme should be reformed
  • Leveraging Government procurement

The Commission’s report asserts that a key feature of the Government’s National Strategy for Disabled People must be directed at significantly improving the employment prospects of disabled people. It further states that disabled people will continue to suffer social exclusion, financial hardship, and generally reduced well-being, until the employment disadvantage is properly addressed.


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