Britain is working. The employment rate has reached a record high with more people earning a living than ever before.
And if you look behind this headline, there is another story which I want to talk about – the promising picture which is emerging in disability employment.
In just five years, the disability employment rate has risen from 44.2% to 51.5%, with 930,000 more disabled people moving into work. And what’s more, disabled women have seen an even faster increase, from 42.8% to 51.0%.
Passing that halfway mark, so more people with a disability are in work than out of work, is a significant milestone. When I speak to employers across the country it’s clear that we’ve reached a tipping point on disability employment. And while we’ve seen a real step change in employer attitudes, it’s not right that some disabled people are still locked out of the jobs market.
Disabled people have so much to offer employers, and sadly many businesses are missing out on a wealth of skills and talents by not making their recruitment processes more inclusive.
We know there is a gap between disabled people who want to work, and those who are in work. If we are to close that gap government and employers must work together to open up opportunities for disabled people.
Some bosses are still worried about the cost of making workplace adjustments. But with a helping hand from government, it’s now easier than ever for employers to take on and nurture the talent of disabled staff.
That’s why it’s so important that disabled people and their employers are aware of the support on offer. In February I announced that we’re increasing the support disabled people can receive through Access to Work to almost £60,000 a year. That’s an increase of £2,000 per annum, helping to pay for workplace adaptations, assistive technology and support workers.
The statistics show us that more disabled people than ever before are moving into work. But we want to delve deeper behind these numbers to find real examples of employers that are leading the way on disability employment. This is crucial if we are to achieve our ambition of giving every disabled person that wants to work the opportunity to do so.
That’s why we’ve launched a new voluntary reporting framework to encourage large businesses to report how many disabled people they employ. We created the framework in partnership with leading disability charities and employers, not only to build a better picture of disability employment but also to give businesses an opportunity to set out how they are currently supporting their disabled employees, allowing others to learn from their success.
I am ambitious about the change I want to see. I want every disabled person to have the opportunity to follow their desired career path. I want more employers to benefit from this huge pool of talent. And I am committed to listening to your views and learning from your experiences so we can build on our progress and create a truly inclusive UK workforce.