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

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Javascript Developer

£55000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: FRONT-END D...

Opportunities for SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a new a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz