Improving Disabled Skills ‘Offers Big Rewards’

Harnessing the skills of Britain’s disabled workforce could boost the UK economy by as much as £48 billion in the next three decades, a report claims. The Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank believes improving disabled people’s skills will provide a £35 billion bump while the help they give to the employment rate is worth £13 billion.

The report, Disability, Skills and Work: Raising our Ambitions, says a national commitment to improve the skills of disabled people is needed to make the change.

Building on the government’s existing efforts to get out-of-work disabled people back into the workplace by boosting their skillset will also help, SMG chief economist Stephen Evans argues.

“The size of the challenge is daunting. But the scale of the prize is huge and the cost of inaction is mounting by the day through wasted talent,” he said. “The past decade has shown how empowering disabled people and supporting employers can work. The next decade needs to see a step change in this approach and a dramatic boost to the skills of disabled people.”

The report has received the backing of Agnes Fletcher of the Disability Rights Commission. “As this report shows, investing in disabled people’s skills is a win/win situation for government, creating massive dividends for the economy and delivering greater equality at the same time,” she said.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has spent £320 million on disabled employment initiatives. One million of the 2.7 million people on incapacity benefits say they still want to work, however.

The government is currently reviewing existing programmes and is set to report later this year.