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One million disabled people in work, but employment gap remains

Diane Lightfoot

Business Disability Forum has welcomed the announcement that the Government has achieved its ambition to see 1 million disabled people into work but says more needs to be done to close the disability employment gap.

Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum, said: “It is great to see the Government’s ambition of 1 million disabled people in work being achieved well in advance of the 2027 target. Employing disabled people is not only the right thing to do, but good for business too. We know that diverse teams which include people with the widest range of lived experiences bring better decision making, problem solving, creativity, and innovation, which ultimately results in better products and services which meet the needs of all customers.

“It is very important, however, that we do not conflate this achievement with a narrowing of the Disability Employment Gap. Reaching this milestone is an achievement. But we need to dig into the figures to understand how many of the 1 million are new or returning entrants to the job market vs how many represent disabled people who have remained in work thanks to better interventions and support or who now feel able to identify as disabled in the workplace, perhaps for the first time.

“All these things are very positive and one of Business Disability Forum’s central messages is around the importance of creating a culture where people feel able to bring their whole selves to work, to be open about disabilities and long-term conditions and to ask for the support that they need. That these cultures are being created, or worked towards, is in itself cause for celebration.

“It does not remove, however, the urgent need to narrow and ultimately close the disability employment gap.  So alongside cultural change, we urge the Government to set new and ambitious targets, which consider the experiences of disabled people in the workplace, and details of how they will work with employers across all sectors to achieve these.

“Disabled people represent a huge and untapped talent pool. With skills shortages in many sectors, there has never been a greater imperative for business to access this available talent.”

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