Low Awareness of Support for Disabled Workers
Employers are receiving more money than ever to support disabled workers, but disabled people still looking for work.
Last year, 2018, the UK Government spent a record £129.1m on the Access to Work scheme, which helps disabled people to participate in work.
The record figure represents a £15m real terms increase in spending since 2010.
Record numbers of people helped
The Government describes Access to Work grants as removing the obstacles facing disabled people in the workplace, helping them to level the playing field and ensure businesses don’t see employing disabled people as a burden.
There are a wide range of purposes that the grants can be used for including:
- Making adjustments to the workplace
- Purchasing specialist equipment
- Arranging travel to work
- Providing sign language interpreters
During 2018 these grants made it easier for 36,240 disabled people engage in paid employment.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel, (CIPD) celebrated the record numbers of people and the increased spending, but also said that employers still have a lot more to do.
More available to spend and more to do
The maximum value of an Access to Work grant is £57,000.
The Business Disability Forum and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have both celebrated the record figures, but both also say that much more needs to be done.
The figures have been described by the Business Disability Forum as showing that employers are not using the full amount available to them.
In many ways this would be seen as getting value for money.
In this case, when the Government has a target of getting 1,000,000 disabled people into employment having helped a record 36,240 individual workers, just demonstrates the work that still needs to be done.
Some need more support
It seems that many disabled workers are not utilising the full value of the grants available to them.
At the same time there are disabled workers who are leaving employment or reducing their hours because the maximum grant is not enough to provide the support they need.
Reluctance to hire
Research from the CIPD has identified that employers are apprehensive when it comes to hiring disabled people into senior roles.
This could potentially be because they see someone who is different with problems doing things that they themselves do not have problems doing.
Instead of looking at the potential they see only the problems.
According to the CIPD sixty percent of HR professionals are aware of Access to Work grants.
A third of HR professionals had used an Access to Work grant, with sixty percent of these people describing them as very helpful.
No reason not to be inclusive
More still must be done to raise awareness of the grants and increase the number of people who access them who describe them as helpful.
Utilising an Access to Work grant should level the playing field between able-bodied and disabled workers and enable businesses to benefit from the skills, knowledge and experience of disabled workers.