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Harness flexible working and the digital economy to generate jobs for those with disabilities

Last updated: 08:58am 24 January 2019

We will harness the opportunities of flexible working and the digital economy to generate jobs for those whose disabilities make traditional work difficult.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.57

Our verdict

According to a House of Commons briefing paper, in April-June 2018, there were an estimated 3.8 million people of working age with disabilities in employment. That equates to an employment rate of 50.7%, whereas the employment rate for people without disabilities was 81.1%. The difference between those rates is known as the “disability employment gap”.

This policy, to generate jobs for people with disabilities by harnessing the opportunities of flexible working and the digital economy, is part of the government’s attempt to close the disability employment gap.

In November 2017, the government published its ten-year strategy aimed at tackling the disability employment gap, Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability.

One of the key areas of focus in the strategy document is reform of statutory sick pay (SSP) to support more flexible working, an initiative also advocated by an independent review of mental health and employers in October 2017.

The strategy also outlined plans to reform Access to Work via the “digital transformation programme to improve the speed, accessibility and the user experience”.

More recently, in August 2018, the government launched a “£1 million Digital Skills Innovation Fund…[to] help people from underrepresented groups gain the skills they need to work in digital roles”.

The government has outlined a strategy to fulfil this pledge and some implementation has begun. However, evidence of the reform of SSP is scant, with no sign at the time of writing of the promised preliminary work. So this policy is ‘in progress’. To move it to ‘done’ we would expect to see legislation on SSP and statistical evidence to back the claim that jobs have been generated under the terms outlined. Follow this policy for updates.

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