It is 25 years since the Conservatives’ Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which outlawed unjustifiable disability discrimination, and 10 years since the Equality Act, which superseded it, became law. However, according to new polling by Savanta ComRes, only half of UK adults think that non-disabled people’s attitudes to disabled people have got better in that time.
In their 2019 General Election Manifesto, the Conservative Party outlined plans to publish a National Disability Strategy as well as reduce the stubborn disability employment gap. There is an under-representation of disabled people in all walks of life from business, the arts, politics and, most of all in senior management positions. While one in five (22%) UK adults fit the legal definition of disability, just one in eight (12%) say they consider themselves to be disabled. This discrepancy could reflect the stigma of disability which remains all too real for some.
This is why I’m chairing a new commission on disability with the CSJ today. We are supported by high profile commissioners including major business leaders from Deloitte, EY and Clifford Chance, a former Minister for disability and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson one of our greatest Paralympians and a tireless campaigner on disability issues.
Government needs to find the confidence to look beyond the litany of strategies which litter the last 25 years and instead formulate and implement, within the lifetime of this Parliament, an action plan for tangible, measurable progress.
We’re also looking beyond the structures of government towards business and employers which is why we have roped in business leaders to support our work. Being able to make progress in the disability employment field depends so much on also being able to show business what actually works. We will look at successful initiatives such as DFN Project Search which has a success rate of over 60% in getting disabled people into real jobs compared to 6% for Government-backed schemes. That’s a ten-fold difference to people’s lives.
The Disability Commission has been set up to secure a step change in the opportunities available to disabled people, especially in employment, to live their lives fully and as they want to. Its message is simple – ‘Levelling up: time to get it done’.
Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,101 UK adults aged 18+ online between 24 and 27 April 2020. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of all UK adults by key demographic characteristics including age, gender, region and social grade. Full data tables can be found here.