Project will tackle Cornwall’s Disability Employment Gap

LEP pilot project tackles disability employment gap

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership is working with the local business community to tackle the disability employment gap.

The pilot project, supported by the Department for Work and Pensions, is part of a national debate around the Government’s recently published work, health and disability Green Paper.

Health and wellbeing in the workplace are critical for businesses to achieve growth, productivity and deliver a return on investment. And the right type of work is generally regarded as good for an individual’s physical and mental health, creating a sense of purpose and self-esteem.

And yet despite a record breaking labour market, some 4.6 million disabled people and people with long-term health conditions are out of work.

In fact less than half – 48% – of disabled people are in employment, compared to 80% of the non-disabled population. This means many people, and some large parts of communities, are disconnected from the benefits that work brings.

And the cost to society is huge – ill health among working age people now costs our economy £100 billion, and sickness absence costs our businesses £9 billion a year.

To tackle the problem the Government has published a Green Paper setting out  how employers, the welfare system and health services can work together to keep people health and in work.

It is now seeking views on what it will take to transform employment prospects for disabled people and people with long term health conditions.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a higher percentage of older workers and working age people with long term health conditions than many areas of the UK.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, working with Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, University of Exeter and the Federation of Small Businesses, has been asked by Government to pilot a programme of work with small and medium-sized business owners to feed back on some of the challenges and opportunities identified in the Green Paper.

Clare Harris, the LEP’s Employment and Skills manager, said: “This allows the business community an opportunity to shape the support available to employers and to have a real say in how the Government works with business to help people with long term conditions and disabilities to remain in work, prevent ill-health, and to help employers to recruit with confidence.

“We’ve been chosen to pilot this work because we have a good track record in this area. Many of our employers already have strong supportive organisational cultures and practices – we want to learn from their success and support others who need to do more.”

The LEP is conducting a series of round-table events with local businesses and the findings will be collated into a report to Government in the New Year.

If your business would like to take part in the LEP’s pilot project please email Jane Abraham before 23 December.

@plusscornwall Workchoice Team can help you get back into work