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There are over 7.6 million people of working age in the UK who are disabled or have a health condition. There has historically been a large gap between the numbers of disabled people employed compared with non-disabled people.
The government is committed to halving the disability employment gap. Employers have a crucial role to play in this. Apart from self-employment, disabled people can only be in employment if employers are willing to employ them.
DWP has a vital role to play in supporting people with disability or longer term health conditions into or back into work.
The Disability Confident scheme was launched in November 2016 and supports the government’s commitment to having 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027. It was developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives to make it rigorous but easily accessible, particularly for smaller businesses.
Disability Confident is about creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.
No employer is too small or new to start the journey and even the most experienced employer will still find new techniques and best practice that can help them.
The scheme was designed as a journey. All employers start at Level 1 and can progress through the scheme at their own pace. Accreditation for each level lasts for 3 years.
The aims for Disability Confident are to:
- give employers the skills, techniques and confidence they need to recruit, retain and develop disabled people
- increase the understanding amongst employers of disability and the benefits disabled people can bring to their businesses
- increase the number of employers, across all sizes, sectors and locations, signing up to be Disability Confident and taking action that will make a difference to disabled people
- make a substantial contribution towards getting 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027
There were 3.9 million working age disabled people in employment in the UK in January to March 2019. This was an increase of 177,000 since last year (January to March 2018), and an overall increase of 947,000 since January to March 2014, the earliest comparable figure.
The disability employment rate was 51.7% in January to March 2019. This is an increase of 1% on the year, and an overall increase of 7.5% since January to March 2014.
The non-disabled employment rate stood at 81.7% in January to March 2019, compared with 78.0% in January to March 2014.
Therefore, there was an employment rate gap between disabled and non-disabled people of 29.9% in January to March 2019. The gap fell by 0.4% on the year, and by 3.8% since January to March 2014.
The overall number of working age disabled people in the UK as reported by the Labour Force Survey increased by around 900,000 since January to March 2014, and currently stands at 7.6 million.
The government has set out a goal to see 1 million more disabled people in employment between 2017 and 2027. In the first 2 years (since January to March 2017), the number of disabled people in employment has increased by 404,000. Over the same period, their employment rate increased by 2.8%, closing the gap to non-disabled people by 1.4%.