A scheme started by Tatton MP Esther McVey six years ago has been credited for helping get nearly 1 million disabled people into work.
Disability Confident is a scheme which supports local employers attract, recruit and develop the talents of disabled people and those with long term health conditions. The Department for Work and Pensions programme was launched by Ms McVey in 2013 when she was Disability Minister with the aim of encouraging companies to employ disabled staff, by offering advice and breaking down unhelpful work-related myths.
New figures from the DWP show 930,000 more disabled people are in work today than five years ago with the employment rate for people with disabilities increasing at almost double the rate compared to non-disabled people.
Ms McVey said: “I came up with the idea to start this scheme as I was passionate about giving everyone a chance to reach their full potential and ensuring people who could work had the support they needed to do so. As someone who employs someone with a disability, I want to speak to businesses across the constituency and encourage a debate on disability employment. I am delighted the figures show such a huge increase in the number of disabled people in work
“Discrimination laws have been in place for years but employment rates for people of working age with a disability were low and were staying low. One of the main messages of Disability Confident was quashing any unfounded doubts employers may have about employing disabled people and encouraging them to see a person’s individual potential not a disability.”
After Ms McVey resigned from her cabinet role as Work and Pensions Secretary, Prime Minister Theresa May praised her for her work in the department dating back to 2013.
Mrs May added: “In particular, the Disability Confident scheme, which she championed and continues to champion, has had an impact on the lives of people who are disabled.”
According to the new figures the number of disabled people in employment increased by an average of 500 a day. In the five year period the employment rate for people with disabilities increased by 7.4 per cent compared to 3.8 per cent for non-disabled people.
A Government target of getting an additional 1 million disabled people in work in the ten years to 2027 is now being reconsidered given the success of schemes such as Disability Confident. A more ambitious target is thought to be being discussed.
The first Disability Confident event was held in London in 2013, the then Prime Minister David Cameron said Ms McVey “can be really proud of the work that you’re doing”
Since its launch the scheme has led to MPs across the country holding their own Disability Confident events to encourage local employers to sign up.