Budget 2017: Chancellor must outline plans to raise disability employment levels, says Scope
Scope calls on the Chancellor to use the Budget to announce reforms to the Work Capability Assessment and amend Statutory Sick Pay.
On Sunday Andrew Marr asked the Chancellor where all the unemployed people were. He claimed that there weren’t any.
Clearly, Philip Hammond didn’t read his own manifesto in June because if he had, then he would know there are roughly 1 million disabled people out of work who want to be in work. Before the election, it was described by his party as a ‘burning injustice’.
The truth is that for every 100 disabled people that enter work, 114 disabled people leave work. There are a multitude of reasons for this but clearly a revolving door is not productive and means both businesses and disabled people are squandering talent and potential.
To his credit, the Chancellor has consistently made it his mission to increase the UK’s productivity which has stayed roughly stagnant for a decade when in fact it should be around 20 percent higher than it currently stands.
Scope believes that a central tenant of improved productivity for the Chancellor is for him to make good on the Conservative manifesto commitment to get 1 million more disabled people into work by 2027.
That is why we are calling for the Government to use tomorrow’s Budget to outline their plans to make the reforms necessary to increasing disability employment levels. To do this they can implement two reforms that will make a significant difference.
First, the Chancellor should announce reforms to the Work Capability Assessment that will replace the existing system with a new assessment for financial support and a new assessment of employment support needs. By separating the two assessments it will mean a disabled person’s financial support does not need to be dependent on their employment aspirations and needs.
The WCA by the Government’s own measures is not fit for purpose and it is costly. Last year more than 60% of WCA appeals upheld in the courts meaning the Exchequer lost money in court fees as well as having to backdate benefit payments to claimants who were not fit for work.
Secondly the Government should amend Statutory Sick Pay to support more disabled people to manage an impairment or condition whilst at work. Giving disabled people and employers this flexibility in the workplace is key to retention of staff and increasing businesses’ productivity.
In the space of a 60-minute speech, the Chancellor can make announcements that can fundamentally change lives.
That is the importance of the Budget.
And for the million disabled people who want to work but who currently face barriers to employment, they will be looking to the Chancellor to implement the reforms that will change their lives and deliver an economy that works for everyone.