I’m determined to put disabled people at the forefront of Covid recovery
315 new disability employment advisers will be in place by May to help disabled people into work. They will help deliver our goal of 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027.
Jason Wheatley is a young autistic man who has recently started a Kickstart job as a sales adviser at Superdrug.
Not only was he pleased to be in employment, nineteen-year-old Jason was looking forward to being able to give some of his first wage to his mum.
Jason’s optimism for his future and pride in having financial independence is clear demonstration of the difference employment makes, and that opportunity must be open to all. As we build back better and fairer from this pandemic, I’m determined disabled people are at the forefront of our recovery.
That’s why today I am announcing that 315 new disability employment advisers will be in place by May to help other disabled people, like Jason, into work. This will bring the number of specialist advisers to 1,115 across the country.
Employers are increasingly recognising the benefits of having diverse and inclusive workforces and are opening up opportunities for more people like Jason
They will help deliver our multi-billion Plan for Jobs, which is creating and protecting jobs for people from all backgrounds as part of our goal to have 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027. Our plan includes specialist personalised employment support, our £2bn Kickstart scheme for young people and Access to Work, which can provide help for disabled people to stay in work with grants worth up to £62,900.
Employers are increasingly recognising the benefits of having diverse and inclusive workforces and are opening up opportunities for more people like Jason. This includes Microsoft, Sainsbury’s and Network Rail, who are leading members of our Disability Confident scheme which helps employers attract, recruit and retain disabled workers. I have been hugely encouraged at this week’s latest figures which show a record 20,000 businesses of all sizes are now signed up to Disability Confident.
I know this is a challenging time, but we will be building on the record disability employment we have seen and working together we will come back from Coronavirus as a better and fairer society.
Our vaccine success has opened up cautious optimism for our economic recovery and with our forthcoming National Strategy for Disabled People and Health and Benefits Green Paper, I will make sure that people like Jason can make the most of those opportunities.
Justin Tomlinson is the Conservative MP for North Swindon and Minister for Disabled People.