Plan to see more disabled people in work

The government has launched a new strategy to break down employment barriers and transform disability employment over the next 10 years.

Working with industry, government will be taking further steps to help disabled people and people with health conditions get into work, and remain and progress in their roles.

These include new measures such as widening ‘fit note’ certification and providing dedicated training for work coaches to support people with mental health conditions.

The strategy, called ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’, builds on last year’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, which called for a comprehensive change to the UK’s approach to disability employment.

It sets out the steps government will take to transform disability employment over the next decade. This includes: extending fit note certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals to better identify health conditions to help workers go back into their jobs faster; conducting large-scale employment research pilots in West Midlands and Sheffield which will include over 11,000 people; building on the number of work coaches receiving training; and £39 million investment to more than double the number of employment advisors in an existing NHS programme treating people with depression and anxiety. Additional steps include: responding in full to the 40 recommendations of the Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers; encouraging more companies to sign up to the Disability Confident scheme; and appointing an Expert Working Group on Occupational Health to champion, shape and drive a programme of work to take an in-depth look at the sector.

Theresa May, Prime Minister, said: “The path a person takes in life and in work should not be dictated by their disability or health condition. Everyone deserves the chance to find a job that’s right for them.

“I am committed to tackling the injustices facing disabled people who want to work, so that everyone can go as far as their talents will take them.

“We recognise the hugely positive impact that working can have on people’s health and well-being, which is why we are determined to break down the barriers to employment facing disabled people.

“This strategy sets out how government, employers and the health service will work together to get more disabled people into employment, and help shift the attitude of business and society to disability.

“This is part of building a country that is fit for the future and creating a fairer society, one that will make sure everyone can reach their potential.”

David Gauke, Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Everyone should be able to go as far as their talents can take them, but for too long disabled people and people with health conditions have been held back from getting on in work.

“Today we’ve set out an ambitious 10-year strategy to end this injustice once and for all. By bringing employers, the welfare system and health services together we’re taking significant steps to ensure everyone can reach their potential.”

Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, said: “Mental ill health can affect anyone, from any walk of life at any time. For too long society has dictated that people with physical and mental health issues or a disability are a burden. Ensuring that more people with disabilities or long-term health conditions can get into and stay in work would not only enhance their lives, but actually enrich our economy too.

“This strategy will help shape the future for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities and mental health issues as we continue to tackle the stigma that so many people face when trying to get into and progress in work.”

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