Responding to the new National Disability Strategy from the Department for Work and Pensions, Federation of Small Businesses National Chair Mike Cherry said:
"More needs to be done. The failure of our whole country to do more to support disabled people to prosper is a moral and economic disaster.
"We have been keen to work with Government to improve the situation for those with disabilities when they start a business, are at work or seeking employment. We value the engagement we’ve had with Government on this but believe that working with employers to make progress on these issues needs to be a higher priority.
"Small businesses already employ a disproportionally higher number of disabled people compared to the rest of the private sector – but we think far more could and should be done to increase disabled employment across all workplaces.
"In particular, there needs to be a push to improve when it comes to recruitment, retention and the resilience of small firms.
"There is a strong case for Government to update existing schemes such as Kickstart, so they can do more to help increase the number of disabled people in work as we move out of the pandemic. This is especially important as disabled people were far less likely than the population as a whole to be in work prior to Covid-19, and are more likely to have faced educational and employment disadvantage to date.
"In terms of retention, there are some welcome updates in today’s strategy on Access to Work but this needs to be developed further so all disabled people are able to have the equipment they need as soon as they start a new job. We’re pleased the Government has announced a pilot scheme to improve access to occupational health for the self-employed and in small firms, although Ministers must address capacity shortfalls in the sector for this to work at scale.
"On resilience, the Government should do more to support the small firms who do the most to employ people with disabilities and health conditions. This should include a Statutory Sick Pay rebate to help firms when their staff are off sick.”
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Jordan Bhatt: 0207 592 3352 / 07813 520 857 [email protected]