William Eichler 02 May 2018

Londoners with disabilities need more support into work, think tank says

Sadiq Khan should create a taskforce dedicated to supporting disabled people into work, think tank says.

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has said London is ‘wasting huge opportunities’ to make its economy bigger and fairer by not doing more to help disabled people into work.

Almost 400,000 Londoners with a disability are unemployed and in some boroughs only one in four disabled people is working, the think tank’s research discovered.

Overall employment in London is 85%, which means the capital has a ‘disability employment gap’ of 38.5 percentage points — a rate slightly lower than the national average of 41.5 percentage points.

SMF’s research found in Hammersmith and Fulham only a quarter of disabled residents are in work, whereas in Richmond more than 65% of disabled people are employed.

The mayor of London should set up a Disability Employment Taskforce, SMF argued, bringing together employers and disability charities with the aim of increasing disability employment in the capital.

‘Helping more disabled jobseekers into work is good for them and good for the economy, so these figures show that even a successful city like London is still wasting huge opportunities by not supporting disabled people better,’ said Matthew Oakley, senior SMF researcher.

‘The good news is that figures from some London boroughs show that it is possible for all areas to do much, much better. Sensible cooperation between the London mayor and central Government would make life better for many disabled people and deliver a bigger, fairer economy.’

The charity Trust for London, who supported the research, commented: ‘It’s great that employment rates are at a record high but not everyone is sharing in this success.

‘Less than half of disabled Londoners are in work and the support they need to get and maintain a job is inadequate. Much greater levels of investment are needed.

‘Not enough attention has been paid to the very significant differences in employment rates for disabled Londoners.

‘Over the past decade boroughs such as Ealing and Lewisham have seen big increases in employments rates for disabled people, whilst Bromley and Croydon have seen significant declines.

‘We need to understand why there is such variation and to improve practice.’

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