Press release

New ad campaign launched at UK's first Disability Employment Conference

The government launches an advertising campaign to help businesses become more confident about recruiting disabled people.

A 2-year advertising campaign to support businesses to become more confident at recruiting disabled people is being launched by the government at the UK’s first national Disability Employment Conference.

It comes as new research published this week shows that more disabled jobseekers cite employers’ attitudes (42%) as a barrier to work than transport difficulties (37%).

Around 300 employers, including FTSE 100 companies, small businesses and disabled entrepreneurs will be in attendance at the conference – the first government conference of its kind – to improve employment outcomes for disabled people.

Plans for a new service for employers specifically for helping disabled people into work – and which make it easier for businesses to hire and keep disabled people in work – will also be on the agenda.

The conference will bring together employers who are exemplars in areas of best practice in disability employment, others who want to improve the diversity of their workforce and where disabled people are under-represented as employees.

There are 6.9 million disabled people of working age in Great Britain, and the employment rate for disabled people has increased gradually over the years from 42.2% in 2002 to 46.3% in 2012.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

I am delighted we are holding this first Disability Employment Conference and launching this new campaign to help employers become confident employing disabled people. This isn’t just about doing what is right for disabled people. Employing disabled people makes business sense too.

We need to break the myth about the complexities of employing disabled people, or to put it more simply – to give employers confidence. That is why we are launching this Disability Confident campaign.

Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey said:

Last year’s Paralympics truly captivated the hearts of the nation and have undoubtedly helped shift attitudes and perceptions towards disabled people.

And although the employment rates for disabled people have increased gradually over the years, there’s more we need to do as too often the talents of disabled people in the workforce are left untapped.

That is why we are hosting the UK’s first national Disability Employment Conference to see how we can harness the drive and innovation of the private sector. It will start a campaign by employers, for employers to better recognise the considerable talents disabled people have to offer and challenge some of the preconceptions around employing disabled people.

We’ve already helped boost employment opportunities for disabled people through our schemes and we are committed to doing everything possible to help disabled people into mainstream work.

To help support employers overcome barriers and become disability confident, from today the government will:

  • host a series of regional Business Breakfasts on proposals for a dedicated employer service, focusing on business needs – funded from the £350 million budget for support for people with disabilities and health conditions
  • roll out a new £500,000 2-year government campaign targeting employers’ and workforce attitudes to hiring disabled people
  • support the roll out of business-led commitments to hire more disabled people
  • support disabled people and media organisations increase media representation and portrayal of disabled people in mainstream programmes
  • provide opportunities, through changes announced this week to Access to Work, for employers to engage disabled people on work experience, traineeship and supported internships
  • provide streamlined advice and support for employers on hiring and keeping disabled people in work through our guidance on employing disabled people and people with health conditions

The new service for employers will focus on supporting them to become more confident about hiring disabled people.

The conference at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster today (18 July 2013), will include keynote speeches from Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, Business Secretary Vince Cable, CEO of Barclays Retail and Business Banking Ashok Vaswani, and Sir Andrew Witty CEO of GSK.

If you want to follow the Disability Employment Conference – join in the conversation with #DisabilityConfident on Twitter.

More information

Research shows that 42% of disabled people looking for work say employers’ attitudes are a barrier to work, compared with 37% who say that transport is..

If disabled people’s employment rate matched that of the rest of the population, an extra 2 million disabled people would be working.

The ‘disability pound’ is worth £80 billion to the GB economy, and 1 in 5 customers is likely to be disabled.

More than 25,000 disabled people have moved into jobs, training or work placements through the government’s package of employment support over the past two years – Get Britain Working measures – since they were introduced in 2011.

The government’s specialist disability employment scheme, Access to Work, helps more than 30,000 disabled employees and entrepreneurs get or stay in work each year. Research shows that around half (45%) of Access to Work customers would be out of work if they did not receive support through the scheme.

The Minister for Disabled People has also said that DWP will work with its providers so that the £3.5 billion ‘buying power’ can be utilised to increase employment opportunities for disabled people.

Remploy Employment Services also found 50,000 jobs for disabled and disadvantaged people since 2010 – many with similar disabilities to those working in Remploy factories.

Access to Work has previously been called ‘the government’s best kept secret’ so to raise awareness of the changes, the government has expanded the marketing campaign to target particularly young disabled people and people with mental health conditions.

Disabled people can get support through Access to Work when setting up their own business if they are enrolled on the New Enterprise Allowance. The New Enterprise Allowance provides expert coaching and financial support for jobseekers with a business idea.

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