This year the government is spending over £50 billion to support those with disabilities and health conditions. This is around 2.5% of GDP, and over 6% of overall government spending. This year, spending on the main disability benefits – PIP, DLA and Attendance Allowance – will have been £5 billion higher than in 2010.
A key area of work for me, as the Employment Minister in the government, is to improve the employment outcomes for people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. The good news is that with support from government, and employers, almost a million more individuals with disabilities and health conditions have moved into work over the past five years. The government wants to support even more employers to realise the benefits and insight that this huge pool of talented people can bring to the workforce.
Schemes like Access to Work provide practical financial support to make the move into work, as well as the workplace itself, more accessible. Access to Work is a grant, worth up to £59,200 a year from April 2019, which can be used by those with disabilities to provide interpreters, workplace adjustments and assistive technology to help to adjust the workplace. It is a highly flexible source of support, and we want to ensure as many people with disabilities as possible can benefit. We also assist those looking for work, as well as employers, through tailored local support via our Jobcentre Disability Employment Advisers.
The government is also working with employers through our Disability Confident campaign, to give them the tools and advice to support staff with a disability or long-term health condition. Providing advice on recruitment and retention. Over 10,000 employers, large and small, across the country have now signed-up.
And to promote the Disability Confident campaign messages locally, I am holding an event this week in Reading, targeted at employers to get them on board with the campaign. Around 40 local employers are attending. They will receive practical advice from Reading jobcentre colleagues, as well as hear from both employees and employers who have benefited from the Disability Confident scheme.
Many of the employers I meet, regularly tell me there is a war for talent in the jobs market right now, especially in the Thames Valley. And that is why it is vital that employers tap into every pool of talent, including those individuals who may have disabilities or health conditions.