I know many disabled people are concerned the pandemic will impact disproportionately on their employment prospects.
I have spoken with colleagues in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) who reassure me that they are closely monitoring the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on people with disabilities.
The Office for National Statistics is publishing a rolling programme of data relating to the social and economic impacts of Covid-19. It has also published the report 'Coronavirus and the social impacts on disabled people in Great Britain'. The analysis gives insight into the experience of disabled adults, and where there might be issues that arise for some that differ from those of non-disabled people.
The DWP is actively working on policies to provide specific employment support for disabled people both in and out of work. This includes initiatives such as Access to Work, Disability Confident, Work and Health Programme and the new Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme, alongside investment to identify effective models of health and employment support for people with health conditions or disabilities. I will continue to follow this matter extremely closely as more data becomes available.
The Government’s commitment to launch a National Strategy for Disabled People will ensure people with disabilities can lead a life of opportunity and fulfilment. The strategy will support disabled people in all aspects of their lives, looking at areas such as education, housing and transport. The consultation “health is everyone’s business” explored ways in which government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss. I look forward to detailed proposals being brought forward once the consultation feedback is published.
The Access to Work scheme continues to provide support for those who have a disability or long-term health condition. Spending on this scheme was £129 million in 2018/19, which represents a real-terms increase of £16 million from 2017/18. The Disability Confident campaign is also helping employers take action to improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers. I am especially glad to see that over 17,000 organisations have signed up.