Publication - Strategy/plan

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: employment action plan

Published: 11 Dec 2018
Fair Work, Employability and Skills Directorate
Part of:

This document outlines the action Scottish Government will take to meet its ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap in Scotland.

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: employment action plan
Supporting Disabled People to Enter Employment

Supporting Disabled People to Enter Employment

Disabled people can access the right support, at the right time, to enable them to enter fair work

Why is this important?

Everyone should have the right to work if they want to. Fair work is good for the economy and for our individual health and wellbeing – in addition to providing a source of income, it can also foster social interaction, contribute to our sense of happiness and self-esteem, and support our independence. Those who are denied equal access to employment, including many disabled people, are all too familiar with the negative consequences – they risk feeling isolated, can experience poverty, and are denied the right to fulfil their potential. At a societal level, we also lose out, failing to realise the benefits of a huge talent pool and diversity of experience.

Meeting our ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap will require a combination of sustaining work for disabled people, supporting disabled people to secure existing vacancies, and also creating new job opportunities. To halve the gap by 2038, the employment level of disabled people will need to increase by around 130,000[8] – over the past year, it has increased by around 19,000. The scale of the challenge will be impacted by a number of factors and could be even greater if, for example, the proportion of disabled people increases (beyond the ageing of our population), or if the non-disabled employment rate increases.

In 2017 there were fewer than 40,000 unemployed disabled people but 321,000 disabled people classed as economically inactive[9] in Scotland. To meet our ambition, we will need to actively engage disabled people currently defined as inactive to support them to move into work. Although rates of inactivity are much higher for disabled people (49.2%) than non-disabled people (16.1%), this does not reflect less willingness to work. Inactive disabled people (26.8%) are more likely to want to work than non-disabled inactive people (21.5%) and two thirds of disabled people who are inactive cite poor health as the reason[10]. We must ensure that those disabled people who can work and who want to work are supported to secure that opportunity.

Case Study: Delivering Differently for Mental Health – Fife

Funded by the Scottish Government's Employability Innovation and Integration Fund over 2017-19, Fife Council, the Opportunities Fife Partnership and the Fife Health & Social Care Partnership have commissioned work to transform employment outcomes and support for people with mental health conditions, achieving a 30% increase in outcomes in the area. The vision is that 'people with mental health problems in Fife are supported to aspire in life and work and can easily access appropriate support as when they are ready to make the journey (back) into work.'

The project team includes representatives from NHS Fife, Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, DWP, Fife College, Fife Council, specialist and generalist employability services, mental health community groups and, critically, people with lived experience of mental health conditions. Frontline staff, employers and employer engagement staff have also been involved.

Phase One of the project has focussed on employability services, with good progress made on delivery of the recommendations for change. This includes development of a Mental Health and Work Indicator and provision of basic mental health awareness training to help frontline staff have an appropriate conversation about how clients' mental health might affect their journey to work, and ensure they are accessing the most suitable support. An increased and more stable funding platform is being created for specialist employability support for people with significant mental health barriers from 2019-22.

Phase 2 of the project is well underway and brings together views from all partners on what taking a whole systems approach could achieve. Delivering Differently has also launched a Pilot Fund to test different ways of delivering mental health employability services and there are 9 pilot projects underway.

Opportunity for Employers

The potential rewards for employers who are prepared to ensure that they attract, recruit and retain disabled people are vast...

Attracting New Employees

86,000 - The number of disabled people who are classed as inactive but would like to work.

36,000 - The number of disabled people who are unemployed and actively looking for work.

Recruiting New Employees

£75 - Average cost to employers for a reasonable adjustment.

£3,000 - Average award given through Access to Work scheme.

Retaining Current Employees

57 - Average age that an individual becomes disabled.

What you told us:

  • Employability support should be person-centred and tailored to meet the needs of the individual.
  • Access to Work, the UK Government fund offering financial support to disabled people in work, needs to be promoted to ensure more disabled people (and employers) are aware of it. It is also complex and can be difficult to apply for successfully.
  • Disabled people often feel undervalued - they want more job opportunities that offer flexible working to enable them to apply (and to be successful in applying) for jobs that that take full account of their skills and qualifications.
  • Disabled people currently in receipt of benefits often fear taking up employment in case it does not work out and they have to re-negotiate the welfare system. There should be a safety net in place to support disabled people during the transition to work.
  • There should be easier access to tailored employment support, recognising that some disabled people will require support to last longer than mainstream programmes do, and that job outcomes may not always be appropriate.
  • Work experience and internships should be long enough for disabled people to gain skills and demonstrate their ability. However, those participating should not be exploited as part of a long-term unpaid workforce.
  • Scottish Government and public sector should make greater use of the levers available to them through the significant level of procurement and City Region/Regional Growth Deals, to secure more job outcomes for disabled people from public investment.
  • The additional barriers faced by disabled people living in rural areas need to be addressed, including poor and often inaccessible public transport, and a lack of reliable high-speed broadband services.

Action that will be taken:

In relation to poverty and in particular child poverty we will:

  • Invest up to £6m of additional resource from the Child Poverty Delivery Fund to co-produce with disabled parents and disabled people's organisations a pilot fund, targeted towards areas with the highest levels of child poverty and the lowest levels of employment of disabled people, to identify and address the barriers disabled parents face to entering and sustaining employment. This recognises the link between disability and poverty and – working alongside existing employment services - in the longer term will support the achievement of our ambitious child poverty and disability employment gap targets.
  • From late 2019, invest £12 million from the Child Poverty Delivery Fund to implement new Parental Employability Support, to help those on low incomes, including disabled people, to secure fair work and an increase in their earnings.

In relation to Access to Work we will:

  • Call for the devolution of Access to Work to enable the creation of a more accessible, comprehensive and a distinctly Scottish service. In addition, we will work with disabled people and other partners to develop support similar to Access to Work to disabled people undertaking work experience or work trials, investing up £500,000 from 2019/20.
  • Promote Access to Work funding across Scotland. This will build on promotion undertaken since the launch of A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People and include awareness raising with employers, as well as the range of agencies supporting disabled people, including Citizens Advice Scotland, disabled people's organisations, and local authorities.
  • Work with disabled people's organisations to develop and pilot a peer-to-peer Ambassadors programme, involving those who have already successfully gained funding, to provide support to those applying for Access to Work.

In relation to employment support we will:

  • Subject to clarification of the UK Government funding settlement, following the end of the UK Government's Specialist Employability Support contracts in December 2019, create a bespoke Scottish support service (in place from January 2020) to meet the specific needs of disabled people for whom more mainstream employment support is not suitable. We will explore the demand for and feasibility of additional investment in the new service.
  • Draw on the evaluation work in progress for Fair Start Scotland in order to: quantify how the service is improving labour market outcomes for disabled people; improve disabled people's experience of Fair Start Scotland; and inform development of future employment services. For example, we are using a programme of focus groups with service users to record views of what has worked well to move them into appropriate and sustainable work to shape what our future employability services provide for disabled people.
  • We will work with Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) employers, Fair Start Scotland providers, disabled people's organisations and others to raise awareness of the 11,000 additional jobs being created in ELC by 2020. We will work with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Early Years Scotland to deliver a recruitment event in January 2019 for disabled people and other groups under-represented in the ELC workforce to provide information on ELC career pathways, skills and qualifications. The event will support the next phase of the national ELC recruitment campaign in early 2019, and run alongside a programme of activities in locations across Scotland designed to raise awareness of and promote the additional jobs that will be available in ELC as we move towards delivery of our transformational expansion of funded ELC from 2020. We will also consider what specific interventions we could make to improve the diversity of the ELC workforce, based on research on barriers faced by under-represented groups in the workforce - including those with disabilities - and which will be finalised in early 2019.

In relation to skills we will:

  • Publish a Future Skills Action Plan in 2019, which will set out the Scottish Government's strategic approach to ensuring Scotland has a skilled and productive workforce, both now and in future. In developing the plan, we will identify opportunities to support enhancement of disabled people's skills, recognising the proportion of disabled people with low or no qualifications is much higher than that of non-disabled people.

In relation to procurement and social enterprise support we will:

  • Develop our sustainable procurement tools and guidance to help buyers across the public sector in Scotland identify and pursue equality outcomes in procurement. We will also highlight the opportunity and need to use public procurement in Scotland to achieve employment of disabled people. We will continue to promote awareness of disability employment as a ministerial priority to contractors across the procurement landscape, building on work undertaken in 2018 by EHRC, Inclusion Scotland and Scottish Government Ministers.
  • Work with City Regions and Regional Growth Deal areas to ensure that they use all available levers to increase employment rates for disabled people by:
    • addressing barriers to employment (e.g. the lack of accessible public transport); and
    • supporting disabled people, from those in school to older workers, in Deal regions to develop the necessary skills to meet the current and future needs of the labour market.
  • Respond to and implement recommendations, where agreed, of the short life working group set up to consider how supported businesses and social enterprises could contribute to increasing employment rates for disabled people. The group will report early in 2019. Ministers will respond in Spring 2019.

We will also:

  • Work across Government (including Transport Scotland) and with transport providers, Local Authorities, disabled people's organisations, the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, and disabled people themselves to deliver the actions in the Accessible Travel Framework, ensuring that promoting equality of access for all is integral to the National Transport Strategy.
  • Work with Social Security Scotland to:
    • Incorporate disabled people's equality into the Social Security Charter - which is publishing in the coming weeks - enshrining the principles of equality and non-discrimination as outlined in the Social Security (Scotland) Act;
    • Develop guidance for the agency's advisors to ensure that, in addition to supporting access to the benefits it administers, they are able to signpost disabled people to employability services, when appropriate and the individual wants support.
  • Develop a national programme of work, commencing in 2019, in collaboration with partners including people with lived experience of social care, to support local reform of adult social care. Having the right social care support is fundamental to being able to participate in society in a full and meaningful way. We will work to ensure that our social care system delivers the right type and mix of support to help remove the range of barriers to work for disabled people.