Britain's disabled workers continue to miss out on jobs due to a lack of tax breaks and incentives for employers
Currently only 47% of disabled adults are in employment compared to nearly 80% of non-disabled adults, with disabled people still not being paid fairly.
Yet, 77% of the public say they would think more highly of a company which made an effort to employ someone with a disability.
The situation has been revealed in a new report from the University of Birmingham and think tank Localis launched in London today - which suggests that is could be bolstered by a sector deal and the abolishment of national insurance contributions of disabled workers. This would help to close the employment gap.
The disability economy or the ‘purple pound’ could be bolstered by a sector – the government’s proposed route to target particular economic opportunities in addition to general investment.
Francis Davis, leader researcher, University of Birmingham said: "The challenge is local as well as national and so we assess each of the manifestoes of the Metro Mayor Combined Authorities to see how much more they could do, or build on what they already propose to access entrepreneurship and employability of disabled people in their areas."
Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that the governments’ new Green Paper to develop an industrial strategy could be further supported if they found ways to bolster and target the ‘purple pound’, which is currently valued at £220 billion.
The study found that a sector deal for the ‘purple pound’ was merited for several reasons; on the grounds of equity as the disability gap was too high; a national need to unlock talent, and potential export strengths of assistive technologies abroad.
Recommendations were made including giving businesses more incentives to employ disabled workers through tax breaks; and a sector deal involving Metro Mayor’s doing their own ‘disability’ deals regionally; and through expanding the assistive technology industry with its immense export potential after Brexit.
At present the assistive technology market is growing at 6% per annum with UK sales exceeding £1 billion, this is in contrast to the Chinese and US market which will soon exceed £150 billion.
Liam Booth-Smith, co-author, Localis, said: "The disability employment gap is closing, but it is not closing quickly enough. While government has made important steps to encourage employers to hire those with a disability; the recently published industrial strategy green paper failing to mention disability or disabled workers shows much more needs to be done to put this issue at the heart of our economic policy."
"Our research calls on the government to create a ‘sector deal’ for disability as part of the emerging industrial strategy. It should offer measures to increase the participation of disabled people in the labour market and support the development of the industries and businesses growing up around the needs of disabled people."