The government will help to get more disabled people into work in the next decade, the Prime Minister said today, as a new strategy is launched to break down employment barriers.
Working with industry, government will be taking further steps to help disabled people and people with health conditions get into work, and remain and progress in their roles. These include new measures such as widening ‘fit note’ certification and providing dedicated training for work coaches to support people with mental health conditions.
The strategy, called ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’, builds on last year’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, which called for a comprehensive change to the UK’s approach to disability employment.
It sets out the steps government will take to transform disability employment over the next decade and progress so far as we build a country fit for the future. This includes:
Extending fit note certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses, to better identify health conditions and treatments to help workers go back into their jobs faster. Fit notes are designed to help patients develop a return to work plan tailored to their individual needs.
- Conducting large-scale employment research pilots in West Midlands and Sheffield which will include over 11,000 people. This research will gather evidence to help improve services for those with health conditions, supporting them get into and stay in work, and helping make sure services are accessible and inclusive for all.
- 2,000 work coaches have received training since 2015 to help them work with benefit claimants with mental health conditions. The government is committed to building on this with the introduction of an enhanced training offer developed with a national mental health charity.
- £39 million investment to more than double the number of employment advisors in an existing NHS programme treating people with depression and anxiety disorders.
- Responding in full to the 40 recommendations of the Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers – including reforming Statutory Sick Pay, improving advice and support for employers and encouraging transparency. The government is also encouraging other employers to take forward these recommendations.
- Over 5,000 companies have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to promote disability inclusion and government is encouraging more companies to sign up.
- Appointing an Expert Working Group on Occupational Health to champion, shape and drive a programme of work to take an in-depth look at the sector.
The Prime Minister said:
The path a person takes in life and in work should not be dictated by their disability or health condition. Everyone deserves the chance to find a job that’s right for them.
I am committed to tackling the injustices facing disabled people who want to work, so that everyone can go as far as their talents will take them.
We recognise the hugely positive impact that working can have on people’s health and wellbeing, which is why we are determined to break down the barriers to employment facing disabled people.
This strategy sets out how government, employers and the health service will work together to get more disabled people into employment, and help shift the attitude of business and society to disability.
This is part of building a country that is fit for the future and creating a fairer society, one that will make sure everyone can reach their potential.