NEW REPORT | Disability Commission: Now is the Time

24th March 2021

Now is the Time: A report by the CSJ Disability Commission

by Oliver Large, CSJ Senior Policy Analyst

The CSJ Disability Commission has today published a report to tackle the vast inequalities that exist between disabled and non-disabled people in the UK.

This report, Now is the Time, comes at an important moment as the country recovers from social and economic pain caused by the pandemic, ahead of the publication of the Government’s National Strategy for Disabled People. While everyone was equally exposed to the coronavirus, the effects of the pandemic have disproportionately impacted disabled people.

This report focuses on five areas of life where the largest barriers facing disabled people exist: employment, education, housing, goods and services, and transport.

The CSJ has long believed that good quality employment is the best route out of poverty. And yet, disabled people face significant barriers to accessing employment opportunities.

The disability employment gap remains stubbornly high. Only 52 per cent of disabled people are in work compared to 81 per cent of non-disabled people, and the gap has shrunk by seven percentage points in five years. On the basis of current trends the Commission estimates it will take 40 years to close the gap.

To improve this situation, the Commission has proposed several reforms, including recommending that all young people with an Education Health and Care Plan are offered a fully funded supported internship, and requiring all large employers (with 250+ employees) to report the proportion of their workforce that is disabled.

Providing equal opportunity for (and take-up of) employment would enhance disabled people’s social inclusion, wellbeing and financial independence.

But to ensure that disabled people have every opportunity to flourish and reach their full potential, we must look beyond employment to the wider root causes of disadvantage in education, housing, transport and access to goods and services.

The size of disadvantage across these areas is stark:

  1. Disabled adults (age 21-64) are 2.5 times more likely than non-disabled adults to have no qualifications, which are a key predictor of employment.
  2. A third of disabled adults experience problems accessing goods and services in society, compared to just three per cent of non-disabled adults.
  3. Nearly one in four working age disabled adults report an unmet accessibility need in their own home. According to research by the LSE, this makes them four times more likely to be unemployed than disabled people who do not live in an inaccessible home.

The Commission has made ambitious and transformative recommendations in each of these areas, including embedding special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision in teacher training, and raising accessibility standards for new builds so that all homes in the future are adaptable and/or accessible homes.

In the following months, the Government will publish its National Strategy for Disabled People. This should mark an important milestone as the country recovers from the economic and social pain caused by the pandemic. The CSJ is urging the Government to incorporate the Commission’s recommendations to ensure we can end the grave social injustices faced by disabled people.

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