As a blind person, I know this plan to get disabled people working is flawed | Mike Lambert

A plan to halve the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people is at the heart of the government’s green paper Improving Lives: Work, Health and Disability.

Consultation ends on Friday, and the work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, is keen to know our thoughts. Personally, I’m torn between wanting to congratulate Green on the scale of his ambitious, 10-year goal and wanting to be convinced that he actually understands the problem he is trying to solve. I hope he gets it right. Speaking as someone profoundly disabled with 35 years in the workplace, I believe there are a few important home truths that he still needs to take on board.

Despite some positive changes, such as the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), equality in the workplace remains a distant dream for a majority of disabled people. For example, latest rResearch from the Royal National Institute for the Blind, shows that only 26% of blind and visually impaired people of working age are employed. And it isn’t because of a lack of skills and qualifications. According to the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, blind graduates are twice as likely as their non-disabled counterparts to be unemployed.

The green paper says disability unemployment “is one of the most significant inequalities in the UK today and the government cannot stand aside when it sees social injustice and unfairness”. Sounds good – but there’s a slight problem. It fails to make any connection…

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