10 Disability employment gap The scope and aims of our inquiry 8. In our report on The Future of Jobcentre Plus we made recommendations on several aspects of DWP support that relate to disabled people, particularly those who are out of work. These are summarised in Box 1, Chapter 3. In this inquiry we sought to build on these recommendations. We also aimed to look more widely at employment retention support for disabled people, support for employers to help reduce exits from work due to ill-health, and to consider how the Department can help bring about cultural change and encourage employers to take on more disabled people. We are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the inquiry. In the text our conclusions are set out in bold, and our recommendations, which require a government response, are set out in bold italic.
Disability employment gap 11 2 Keeping sight of the target and a strategy for reaching it A timeline for halving the gap 9. The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto stated “we will aim to halve the disability employment gap”, by transforming “policy, practice and public attitudes”.27 The manifesto did not set a deadline for achieving this. A DWP press release in June 2015 did, however, state that the Government “aims to halve the gap between the disabled employment rate and the overall employment rate by 2020”.28 Questioned on whether the gap would indeed be halved by 2020, Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work (the Minister) denied that this had ever been the intention. She told us: “I know a couple of MPs have suggested that it was a 2020 target. It was clearly not a 2020 target”.29 The Department has clarified that it has a “10 year vision” for reform leading to halving the gap, telling us that “tackling [the gap] is a long-term project”.30 10. Witnesses told us that halving the gap is an ambitious aim, and doing so by 2020 would have been highly challenging.31 Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, for example, told us that: The ambition is good and a bit like, ‘Would you say is it achievable for women to achieve equality?’ or something. Of course it is achievable. The question is the timeline.32 David Finch, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation think-tank, thought that “around 10 years” might be a more realistic timescale.33 Others pointed out that this would depend on the Department substantially accelerating its current rate of progress. Steve Sherry, Chief Executive of Royal British Legion Industries, which runs its own employment support services, cited research that showed that “at the current rates it might be achieved in 200-plus years”.34 Measuring and reporting on progress 11. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the main survey that the Department uses in assessing the size of the disability employment gap, including in its green paper.35 The LFS measures self-reported disability.36 The Department told us 27 Conservative Party, 2015 manifesto, p.19 28 DWP, Press release: First Disability Confident city sets out bold employment ambition, June 2015 29 Q109 (Penny Mordaunt) 30 DWP and DH, Improving lives, para. 11; DWP (DEG0083) 31 Learning and Work Institute (DEG0086), Disability Rights UK (DEG0041), Leonard Cheshire Disability (DEG0039), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (DEG0085), Remploy (DEG0075), Scope (DEG0069), Papworth Trust (DEG0043), Business Disability Forum (DEG0042), British Association for Supported Employment (DEG0033), United Response (DEG0030) 32 Q35 (Liz Sayce) 33 Q2 (David Finch) 34 Q52 (Steve Sherry) 35 DWP and DH, Improving lives, para. 22 36 The current LFS question on disability asks: “Does your condition or illness reduce your ability to carry out dayto-day activities? Answers: Yes, a little; Yes, a lot; and Not at all”. See Ben Baumberg Geiger, Melanie Jones and Victoria Wass (DEG0023) for previous wordings of the question.