A gentle reminder to government of the Disability Employment conference.
On 18th July 2013, the Prime Minister gave a speech at the Disability Employment conference. Just over six months later, we feel the government needs a reminder of this speech.
In it the Prime Minister spoke emotively about disability:
Now, last summer, Britain’s Paralympic Games opened the eyes of the world to see disability in a different way. As we lined our streets to cheer on those great Paralympians, the conversation was no longer about what disabled people can’t do, but they were about the awe-inspiring things they can do. That should be the great legacy of our national heroes like Ellie Simmonds, Dave Weir, Sarah Storey: the chance to change perceptions of disability, and to open the door for the talents of all disabled people in our country.
He went on to say:
And this goes to the heart of my argument this morning, because I passionately believe that employing disabled people is the right thing to do. It is right for disabled people. It is right for business, and it is right for our country too. And I want to speak briefly in turn about each of those.
Of course, there are some disabled people who have more complex needs and can never be expected to work, and we will never expect them to do that, and we will always support them. That is what a compassionate country should do. But many disabled people can work and in fact want to work, and with the right adjustments, work is good. And it is absolutely right that we should do everything possible to support them.
At the same time that this was happening, the government had already changed Access to Works guidance, introducing the idea of salaried support. Whilst talking about all working together to break down the barriers for disabled people the government were beavering away in the background creating some nice new ones!
Access to Work has been described as one of the few systems that actually works. It does what it’s meant to do and has been very effective, providing flexible support and enabling the Deaf or disabled AtW customer to have choice and control over their support. But the best thing about it is that it costs the government nothing, in fact it makes them money! For every £1 spent, the treasury reaps £1.48.
The current guidance makes no economic sense and erodes deaf and disabled peoples access to employment. The Prime Minister ended his speech by saying:
That focus on what people can do is the key to how we change perceptions of disability in our country. It is how, together, we will increase the employment of disabled people in Britain and it’s how, together, we will keep alive that wonderful legacy of those brilliant Paralympics for generations to come.
Thank you very much for listening. Can I wish you the best for your conference and can I hope that, out of this, we persuade many more employers to employ disabled people and we create more opportunities for disabled people in our society. That’s what today is about; that’s why this work is so vital, and that’s why it has my 100% backing.
….perhaps he’s forgotten!
That wonderful legacy didn’t even last six months.
You can read the full speech here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/disability-employment-conference-prime-ministers-speech