International Day of Disabled People: Why isn't Iain Duncan Smith looking at the barriers that prevent disabled people from getting work?

The likelihood of a disabled person in the UK being unemployed is twice that of a non-disabled person.

Share
Related Topics

Iain Duncan-Smith showed his self-righteous side the other
week, right at the very end of the BBC’s Question Time.

When questioned by Owen Jones on the Government’s welfare reforms for disabled people, he responded by blurting out:

“I didn’t hear you screaming about 2.5 million people who were parked; nobody saw them for over ten years, not working, with no hope, no aspiration.  We are changing their lives. I am proud of doing that.”

Whilst it is of course laudable for anyone to take pride in their work, the source of IDS’ pride is highly questionable when it comes to getting disabled people into jobs, if recent statistics are to be believed.

First of all, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the likelihood of a disabled person in the UK being unemployed is twice that of a non-disabled person.  Indeed their most recent official figures show that in the three months to June 2012, there were 554,000 unemployed disabled people, a 10.7% rise on the previous year and an 11,000 increase on the quarter.

Then there’s the revelation that, as myself and others predicted, a mere 35 disabled workers  have found new jobs out of the 1,021 sacked from Remploy factories, despite ministerial promises and a £8 million scheme to help them back into work.  In addition, it was announced last week that only 3.5% of those referred to the Government’s Work Programme found long-term jobs in the last 6 months, with it being particularly difficult to find jobs for disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance.

Today happens to be the United Nation’s International Day of Disabled People, a day to focus on removing barriers to creating an inclusive and accessible society.  It would appear that the ConDem Government is marking this occasion by starting to allow private companies and jobcentres to force more than 300,000 disabled welfare claimants into unpaid work experience for an unspecified length of time.  Furthermore if they aren’t up for a bit of legalised slave labour, they can be stripped of up to 70% of their benefits and forced to live on a mere £28.15 a week.

When faced with facts such as these, it is hard to see what exactly IDS has to feel so proud and self-righteous about?

Fundamental to all this is a lack of understanding on the part of the Government about what helps disabled people survive and thrive in employment.  The focus always seems to be on penalties and benefit cuts to force us into the job market, rather than tackling the systemic barriers that prevent disabled people from getting work.

None of the recent reforms address or for that matter acknowledge the discrimination faced by disabled people in the workplace.  Indeed measures like cutting funding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the recent erosion of employment rights (e.g. increasing the time before workers are protected from unfair dismissal from one year to two years) will probably ensure such discrimination goes unchallenged.  Many disabled people, including myself, rely on the soon-to-be-scrapped Disability Living Allowance to pay for essential support (e.g. an accessible Motability car) without which we couldn’t work.  Long-term unemployed disabled people may not have qualifications or work experience, partly as a result of the special education system, and will need to attend training, volunteering and peer mentoring schemes before they are in a position to get paid work.

In short, nobody would refute IDS’s claim on Question Time that he is “changing the lives” of disabled people in this country. 

But whether he’s giving us “hope” and “aspiration” is another matter entirely.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Teacher Required We are curr...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teaching positionRands...

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone