Disabled people are more likely than any other group to be workless and young disabled people are more likely to be NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). Also the majority of benefit claimants are disabled.

The EHRC have published the EHRC Fairness report; How does Scotland Fare

Described by EHRC as landmark review bringing together for the first time all available information to answer the question ‘How Fair is Britain?’

The report provides the most accurate picture of daily life for people in Scotland today. Looking across what is necessary for people to live a happy, productive and fulfilled life, it concludes that while the country has made significant progress in terms of tackling discrimination and changing attitudes over the past 30 years, there exists a huge gap between aspiration and achievement.  Old inequalities continue to hold us back while new social and economic fault-lines emerge as we get older and more diverse

The report States important areas of unfinished business are revealed as including:

- The pay gaps across gender, race and disability
- Low levels of employment for disabled adults

- Unrepresentative public bodies, Parliaments and Councils

- Close the employment gap for people with disabilities

Work is more than an opportunity to earn a living; it provides a means of meeting and interacting with others, and it can increase an individual’s sense of health and well-being. 50% of disabled adults are in work, compared to 79% of non-disabled adults. In Scotland the figures are 47per cent compared to 82 per cent. Employment rates are particularly low for those who are both DDA and work-limiting disabled (which includes those with the most severe impairments) at only 29 per cent in Scotland

Some evidence suggests that disabled people are more likely to experience discrimination and bullying in the workplace than average. Removing such barriers and increasing disabled people’s participation in the workplace might benefit individuals and the economy as a whole.

Some disability employment stats from a variety of sources

Young disabled people aged 16 are twice as likely not to be in any form of education, employment or training (NEET) as their non- disabled peers - this increases to 3 times as likely by the age of 19. (Department for Education and Skills)

By the age of 26, young disabled people are 4 times as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled young people and more than 3 times as likely to agree with the statement "Whatever I do has no real effect on what happens to me. (Burchardt (2005) ‘The education and employment of disabled young people: frustrated ambition’)

Disabled people are twice as likely as others to have no recognised qualifications ( Inclusion Scotland)

The rate of unemployment amongst disabled graduates is 14% higher than that for non-disabled adults with no qualifications at all (Inclusion Scotland)

49% of disabled people of working age do not work and are at considerable risk of living in poverty, with severe consequences for their families and children. (Fabian Society (2006) ‘Narrowing the Gap: the Final Report of the Fabian Commission on Life Chances and Child Poverty’)

Disabled people in work are more likely to be in low paid, low skilled jobs. (Disability Rights Commission (2006) ‘Disability Briefing March 2006‘).

Disabled adults are now more likely to live in poverty than either pensioners or children ( inclusion Scotland)

Partly due to their low levels of formal qualifications, disabled people are less likely to work in managerial and professional occupations.

42% of households with one or more disabled people have an annual

income of less than £10,000. This compares with figures of 26% for households with no disabled person. (Scottish Council Foundation, 2005 “Disability in Scotland 2005–2020: A State of the Nation Report”)

Among those in employment, earnings are 11% lower for disabled than non-disabled people with the same level of educational qualifications.

People who are disabled officially constitute only 6 % of formal volunteers and around 4.3 % of public appointments across Britain. This is compared to 20 % of the population at large. (DRC (2006) Disability Agenda “Increasing Participation & Active Citizenship”)

Dumfries and Galloway Council report, Using Equality Evidence to Inform Policy. P 69 – 79 Employment and income levels – Disability Issues

This shows the gap between employment rates for non-disabled and disabled people was 27% in D&G. Tables on page 28 – 30 provide some information about public sector workforce in relation to disability but little other local intelligence. This is a focus area of DGVoice this year as we are aware of the level of interest across our membership and another reason we feel involvement in the Employability Partnership is important.

Inclusion Scotland response to Scottish Government Child Poverty Strategy

DGVoice are members of Inclusion Scotland( IS). Inclusion Scotland have recently responded to the Child Poverty Strategy consultation. I have enclosed this for your information. You will see it specifically comments on meeting the government’s commitment to the importance of involving disabled people directly in Employability Partnerships.

Employing and serving disabled people

A new web from the employer’s forum on disability aims to provide the tools needed to build a business case for employing disabled customers. The realising potential web site, at http://www.realising-potential.org, accompanies a publication of the same name

Disability Equality Duty – Code of Practice
These are obligations that Public Bodies such as D&G Employability Partnership must embrace.   Section 2.52 is particularly relevant

2.52    Taking active steps to ensure the involvement of disabled people is particularly important given the under-representation of disabled people generally in positions which determine policies and priorities of public authorities. The requirement to give due regard to the need to promote participation in public life requires that steps are taken to ensure that the formal structures of governing and advising bodies are accessible to and inclusive of disabled people,

This is why Disabled People must be represented at all levels in Employability Pertnerships, with full involvement from the setup stage onwards.  Disabled people are well aware of the benefits that flow from employment.   All they ask is to be given the opportunity to enter the workplace.

Given the clear and often overwhelming disadvantage disabled people experience when seeking employment, it is bizarre that Dumfries and Galloway Employability Partnership has refused to allow a rep from DGVoice to join them.

Remploy Stakeholder Bulletin

As you will be aware, my predecessor announced on the 10th July that Parliament would be kept up to date on the progress made by the Remploy Board with its commercial process, aimed at moving Remploy factories away from Government control.

The Remploy Board had considered the recommendations of the Independent Panel on proposals submitted as part of the commercial process. As a result of this nine sites and an associated business had business plans accepted and moved forward to the "best and final offer" stage where detailed bids were considered.

I am now able to inform you that following independent and expert advice as part of the assessment process, three of these nine sites/businesses (Barrow, Bristol and the Cook with Care business) have been approved by the Remploy Board to progress to the next stage of the commercial process.

Remploy will now enter into detailed negotiations and due diligence with bidders and where negotiations are successful the company currently aims to complete transactions before the end of October 2012 where possible.

Although these bids have been approved to proceed, this provides no
guarantee of a successful exit at this stage. I will continue to keep you updated on progress.

Acceptance of the bid for these factories/associated businesses is good news, although it is important to note that it does not necessarily propose to maintain the ongoing employment of all employees at this site.The exact number of employees whose employment is protected, and the numbers that exit as a consequence of these bids, will be agreed as part of the next stage of the commercial process.

Additionally, the Remploy Board is seeking further clarification on the
proposals it has received for the Bridgend, Chesterfield and Springburn sites. The Remploy Board hopes to announce a decision within the next week.

Following the assessment process the Remploy Board has concluded that the bids for the Aberdeen and Poole factories do not meet the required criteria to preserve jobs for disabled people or provide value for money. No Best and Final Offers were submitted for the Croespenmaen or Edinburgh factories.

In the absence of viable plans Remploy will now move to close these
sites/businesses and begin individual consultation with employees who are now at risk of redundancy, because of the decision to close the sites.

We recognise that this announcement has serious implications for staff in these Remploy factories and also for their families. You will be aware that the Government has put in place a comprehensive package of support for any disabled Remploy employees who are, in the event, made redundant. An £8 million fund has been made available to support the delivery of a Personal Help and Support Package across Great Britain to support any disabled staff made redundant for up to 18 months following redundancy to make the transition from working at Remploy to mainstream employment or
other suitable opportunities. As part of the package we have also set up a Community Support Fund. Local Disabled People's User Led and Voluntary Sector Organisations can apply for grants to support individuals and families in the areas affected by the Remploy factory closures.

The Government's focus remains on helping as many disabled people get into and stay in work as possible. I remain committed to that and by protecting the £320m annual budget for Specialist Disability Employment Provision and spending it more effectively, we can get thousands more disabled people into work.

Through the Package of Support set out above, any disabled member of Remploy staff who is, in the event, made redundant, will be allocated a Personal Case Worker, who will manage the future delivery of support for these individuals. The Personal Case Workers are the heart of the support offer in place for disabled staff. They will hold meetings with affected employees to help identify suitable support and opportunities, and signpost or refer them to appropriate provision.

We will use the knowledge and expertise of the Remploy Employment Services. In the past two years these services have successfully found jobs for 35,000 disabled and disadvantaged people, many with similar disabilities to those working in Remploy factories.

I am pleased to tell you that part of the package will also include
targeted opportunities for Remploy employees under the Employers Forum on Disability's First Shot programme. The businesses that are First Shot participants will work with Remploy to explore offering a range of opportunities to support ex-Remploy staff to obtain alternative employment. This will include guaranteed interviews, job trials, work experience and a range of training for individuals and their new employers.

We expect that many disabled employees made redundant would be assisted into mainstream employment through use of the Access to Work programme. We know that certain groups of disabled people, such as those with mental health conditions and those aged 16-24 do not benefit from the programme as much as they could. I want us to ensure we reach the people that need this support, which is why we announced on 4 July that we are undertaking a targeted marketing campaign alongside a range of other improvements to the programme.

We will continue to keep in touch throughout the autumn with bulletins that aim to keep you and other interested parties updated about progress with Remploy's commercial process.

I would also like to take this opportunity to advise you of the
comprehensive system that has been put in place to track progress and activity of former Remploy employees for at least 18 months following factory exit. This includes monitoring the number of people who access the support on offer, people who move into employment or claim benefits, and those who may choose to retire or take a short sabbatical.

Esther McVey MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Disabled People