The Yorkshire Evening Post is today launching the ‘Let’s Work Together Campaign’, run jointly by the YEP and Reed In Partnership.
We are highlighting the service of Better Working Futures - available at Jobcentre Plus - in a bid to raise awareness and help more people with disabilities and other health conditions, who might struggle for a variety of reasons, into work.
We are urging business to get involved and want to help match those struggling to get a job with forward thinking employers, keen to offer an opportunity.
The YEP has spoken to people who have struggled to find work and also to the employers who have taken part in the Better Working Futures project.
New research from Reed in Partnership across Yorkshire has found that one in three small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not employ anyone with a disability, or are not aware that they do.
This is despite 93 per cent of these organisations having an Equal Opportunities policy.
There are 3.9 million people with a disability currently working in the UK - but almost 9 million more who want the opportunity to work. They have valuable skills and experience to offer, but are limited by the opportunities available to them.
Charity Scope says that disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, with their most recent figures showing that 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment, compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, there are 50,000 disabled people in work living in Leeds, out of a working population of 1.51 million.
MP Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, is backing the campaign. He said: “Those businesses that are prepared to make small changes will reap huge benefits.This is good for their business and society as a whole.”
Most of the UK’s businesses are SME’s with 250 employees or less. They account for more than 60pc of all UK employment, these results suggest most of the labour market is still inaccessible to people with disabilities or long-term health conditions.
The Government hopes to see an additional one million disabled people in work by 2027.
Employers interviewed by Reed In Partnership cited concerns about employing people with disabilities, including the impact it could have on other employees and the infrastructure of the working environment.
However, previous research has shown the cost of the average reasonable adjustment necessary to make work accessible to someone with a disability is just £80.
Hannah Thaxter, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, said: "The YEP wants to shine a light on the difficulties many people with disabilities or health conditions face in securing paid employment, but also to try to answer some of the questions and concerns potential employers might have about employing someone with different abilities, that they might be wary of asking.
"Nothing will be gained by making this a 'hidden' issue, clouded by misinformation, red tape and lack of knowledge.
“Better Working Futures works to help people with disabilities and employers - to ensure the right person gets into the right job, with the right support.
"I hope our campaign this week opens up the issue for discussion and above all, gives small to medium enterprises in Leeds the confidence to be a welcoming employer to all, whatever their disability.
"We need to work together on this to ensure our workplaces are somewhere where everyone's talents and skills can be used, whatever their disability."
Better Working Futures is Reed in Partnership’s name for the Work and Health Programme in Yorkshire and the North East, which is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and European Social Fund.
If you are a business or someone struggling to find work and would like to know what free support is available to help you, visit betterworkingfutures.co.uk
What is Better Working Futures?
Better Working Futures helps people address their barriers to employment, focusing largely on those with disabilities and other health conditions, including mental health issues and learning disabilities.
The support is completely free and participants can get help to prepare for work including managing their health, accessing skills training courses, searching and applying for jobs that suit their skills and personal circumstances, plus practicing for interviews.
They will also get support to deal with other issues, such as housing and finance and how to cope with a job and staying in work.
Each participant is paired up with a friendly employment adviser who will take the time to understand their needs.
See tomorrow’s Yorkshire Evening Post for a personal story from Syed Rahman who struggled to find work but has now found a job he loves.