Today in Parliament, the SNP’s Westminster Disabilities spokesperson, Marion Fellows, called on the UK Government to produce concrete proposals to close the disability employment gap.
Speaking at Women and Equalities question time, Mrs Fellows said the Tories’ manifesto commitment to reduce the disability employment gap was “another vague commitment with no target and no detail.”
Mrs Fellows has requested a meeting with UK Ministers to discuss what clear steps can be taken to close the gap, including changes to the Department for Work and Pension’s Access to Work scheme.
Access to Work offers support based on peoples’ needs, which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace including special equipment and help getting to and from work.
Mrs Fellows backed calls from Inclusion Scotland to increase the budget and lift the cap on how much each applicant can be granted; and calls from Leonard Cheshire to reduce waiting times so as not to jeopardise job offers.
Figures from Leonard Cheshire show that only 14% of people with disabilities in Scotland have accessed the scheme.
Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:
“If the UK Government is serious about reducing the disability employment gap, then there must be clear and concrete proposals to do so and targets to measure performance. They cannot continue paying lip service with no action.
“Increasing the Access to Work fund, lifting the cap, lowering waiting times and raising awareness are just a few small steps which can make a big difference to peoples’ lives. We must see improved access to the scheme.
“There is no shortage of ideas which could help people with disabilities get into and stay in work. It only requires the political will which so far, the UK Government has been lacking. The Tories’ austerity regime has specifically targeted people with disabilities and has trodden them down, rather than lifting them up.
“This is in sharp contrast to the Scottish Government’s Action Plan which seeks to half the disability employment gap by 2038 and creation of a new social security system based on fairness dignity and respect.”