Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Aspire and World Human Rights Day - disabled people and employment

The last of our posts for World Human Rights Day looks at the right to work.
  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

“Disabled people are significantly less likely to be in employment than non disabled people”
UK public policy has seen a shift in focus to getting people from benefits and into work. The Department of Work and Pensions’ flagship Work Programme, aimed at getting people off benefits and into employment has risen in prominence, particularly in light of the recent economic climate and drive to get the benefits bill down.
Despite the schemes and assistance provided, it is still difficult for disabled people to gain employment. Compared to other equality strands such as race and gender, disabled representation for high level jobs is massively under-representative of the disabled population. A 2009 study from Leonard Cheshire Disability found that 43% of respondents had been turned down for a job because of their impairment. And even when people do get into work, disabled people are paid less than non-disabled people for doing the same job.
When broken down into full-time and part-time, figures show that 32.9% of disabled people were in full-time employment compared to 58.9% of non-disabled people and 14.4% of disabled people were in part-time employment compared to 18.3% for non disabled. This means that a greater proportion of disabled people in employment work on a part-time basis when compared to non-disabled people.
The public sector has shrunk during this Parliament with Departments making around 25% spending cuts across the board and even more in some areas with some Councils having their grants reduced by even 50% by 2018.
The government has looked to encourage private sector growth and has looked for it to provide 2.5 million jobs. The public sector fairs better than the private when it comes to disability employment rates; and the odds of having employed a disabled person are one and a half times higher in the public sector than in the private sector.  
Perception amongst employers on disabled people is also misguided. The UK has lower employment rates than other European countries after spinal cord injury. In a survey of employers, 33% said hiring a disabled person was a major risk and 47% said it would be difficult to retain an employee who became disabled.
Unless there is a drive to promote disability awareness to businesses, greater reliance on the private sector to provide employment opportunities could have a negative impact on employment opportunities for disabled people.
Research has found that the cost efficiency of workplace support increases over time and becomes cost-efficient to taxpayers around the fourth year of operation. For every £1 invested in supported employment, the taxpayer gets back around 43p from savings elsewhere in the system making the investment worthwhile in the third year. However, where there is opportunity for short term savings to be made, the long term benefits can often be overlooked.
The government does have policies in place that do help disabled people get into work. Aspire has received positive feedback on the Access to Work scheme. The scheme provides financial support to disabled people travelling to work as well as help at work, such as with equipment or support workers.  

We hope that this scheme will continue to receive investment and that it will be publicised wider so that people know that there is funding to help them get back into the workplace. More help from schemes like Access to Work will help towards recognising this Human Right for disabled people. Furthermore, Aspire has launched
InstructAbility which trains disabled people to become fitness instructors around the country and helps them into work.
So we will end our Human Rights series on a more optimistic note on the theme of employment and we hope you have enjoyed reading these series of blogposts.

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