CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition welcome the Task Force Report (download document here). We fully endorse all the positive suggestions for enabling disabled people to get ready for and join the work force. It is to be celebrated that so many barriers to employment for disabled people can now be managed and overcome.
However the report is in danger of forgetting that in some cases Impairment does still Impair. And that this has to be negotiated with employers who will face extra costs. Supporting disabled people is only one half of the equation. Getting a job is a contract between two sides. Disabled people are one half of the contract and employers are the other half. The contract is negotiated through the mechanism of a competitive labour market which doesn’t favour impairment. It isn’t sufficient to just be concerned with the disabled person. Government has to think about employers and examine how they relate to disabled people.
- What happens if impairment actually impairs?
- What is the employer’s attitude to any extra costs which result from impairment?
- What is government doing to help the employer cover these extra costs.
We need to reclaim the idea that Impairment may actually Impair. Stop airbrushing this away as an inconvenient truth. And make sure that all government programmes take this on board.
We are delighted that this is dealt with in paragraph R25.
R25. There should be investment in creating a sea-change in employer behaviour on recruitment, development and retention of disabled people. This should include the exploration of behavioural insight methodologies such as those developed for ‘Trading for Good’, the linking of positive employment practices to enhanced market position and the consideration of incentives via the tax system, rewarding good practice.
These are great suggestions for government interventions. But one slight paragraph in such a weighty report is not enough to deal with the barrier that is the competitive labour market. Given the length of the report why is this not explored more fully?
This is so important because while the employers’ half of the equation is not dealt with many disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group are being forced up against this barrier by the government.
We welcome paragraph R7 and are pleased that realistic real world employment opportunity would finally be added to the testing process.
R7. The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) should be replaced by a system which is capable of taking account of the full range of factors which determine genuine employment opportunity, including health/impairment, skills, qualifications and the local job market. We believe such an approach will be much more effective at ensuring that appropriate financial and practical support is targeted at the right people. Disabled people and their organisations should be involved in planning and delivering such services.
And we welcome paragraph R10 which deals with the situation where people can make a contribution but still need to depend on secure state support.
R10. A modern social security system should encourage people with on-going or fluctuating conditions to try work without fear of prejudicing their income security. Feeling secure in one’s income is an essential part of moving towards work. We believe there should be further exploration of how new flexibilities might be introduced into the benefits and tax credits system and propose that the current permitted work rules are further relaxed.
We are delighted that the Task Force Report touches briefly on these key issues. But we feel that issues as fundamental as this need to be explored in far more depth.
We need to reclaim the idea that Impairment may actually Impair. Stop airbrushing this away as an inconvenient truth. And make sure that all government programmes take this on board and stop pressurising disabled people to do something they cannot do.
The government needs to develop interventions with employers that make employment for disabled people with impairment possible, and meanwhile provide safe, secure support for disabled people while this is resolved.