The government has acheived its goal of seeing one million more disabled people in employment well in advance of its 2027 target, but a disability group says more needs to be done to close the employment gap.
The latest labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of disabled people in employment has increased by 1.3 million since 2017.
The number of disabled people in work in January to March 2022 was 4.8 million. This was an increase of 460,000 since January to March 2021, and an increase of 470,000 since the same period in 2020.
Minister for disabled people, health and work, Chloe Smith, said: “This is an important milestone showing our commitment to supporting disabled people to lead independent lives and reach their full potential.
“Ensuring everyone has the same opportunity for a fulfilling working life is a key part of levelling up the country and we will continue to push for greater accessibility and inclusion for disabled jobseekers.”
However, the disability employment gap – the difference in the employment rates of people who have a disability and those who do not – was 28.2 percentage points in January to March 2022, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Official disability pay gap figures released by the ONS last month revealed the difference between median pay for disabled employees and non-disabled employees in 2021 was 13.8%. In 2014 disabled employees earned 11.7% less than non-disabled employees.
Diane Lightfoot, CEO of the Business Disability Forum, said the government needed to set new and ambitious targets that considered the barriers disabled people faced at work.
“Reaching this milestone is an achievement. But we need to dig into the figures to understand how many of the one million are new or returning entrants to the job market versus how many represent disabled people who have remained in work thanks to better interventions and support or who now feel able to identify as disabled in the workplace, perhaps for the first time,” she said.
Lightfoot said cultural change within organisations was also needed to help more people with disabilities bring their whole selves to work and be open about their health conditions and the support they need.
“That these cultures are being created, or worked towards, is in itself cause for celebration,” she said.
“We know that diverse teams which include people with the widest range of lived experiences bring better decision making, problem solving, creativity, and innovation, which ultimately results in better products and services which meet the needs of all customers.”
D&I opportunities currently on PT Jobs