With nearly half of disabled people not in work, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has published its manifesto to promote equality for disabled people and challenge discrimination against them.
The Labour Force Survey reveals that just 48 per cent of disabled people are currently in employment compared to 79 per cent of non-disabled people. This employment gap has persistently been more than 30 per cent since 2008. And for some disabled people it is particularly hard to get a job – just one in five (20 per cent) of those with learning difficulties, fewer than one in four (22 per cent) with mental illness or phobias, and only one in three (33 per cent) of those who suffer from depression or anxiety are in work.
The TUC’s manifesto finds that progress in reducing the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has ground to a halt. It also highlights reluctance from some employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’, as well as the government’s failure to extend effective schemes such as Access to Work, as being part of the problem.
For some disabled people the barriers to getting work begin as soon as they leave the house, as public transport is ill-equipped to help physically disabled people get into work, says the TUC. In London just 25 per cent (67 out of 270) of underground stations are step-free.
The manifesto calls for a variety of actions to promote disability equality both in the workplace and in wider society, including:
· - Proper interpretation of the reasonable adjustment duty
· - More employment rights and decent pay and conditions for carers
· - A British Sign Language Act
· - Improving legal recognition of disability hate crime
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Far from being a friend of disabled workers, this government has shown its true colours by a series of measures that have hit them in the home, in the workplace and in education. Unions are working hard to win decent pay, opportunities to training and promotion at work for disabled people.
“Disabled people deserve a fair deal at work and the chance to participate and progress in all areas of life. We need to change the approach to disability and remove the barriers that prevent disabled people participating, rather than focus on what an individual cannot do.”
Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said: “DPAC welcomes the launch of the TUC disability equality manifesto. With the UK having now become the first state in the world to be investigated for grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights, it is definitely time to get disability equality firmly back on the political agenda.”
Director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education Tara Flood said: “An inclusive education is a prerequisite of a fair and equal society so it is good to see it at the heart of the TUC’s manifesto for disability equality.”
* Read the TUC's disability manifesto here
* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/