Last week United Response attended Conservative Party Conference and held a panel discussion on the important issue of getting more people with a disability into employment.

Many people with a learning disability want a job but currently only 5.8% of people with a learning disability are in paid employment compared to 80% of non-disabled people.

An asset for businesses

The event, held in Manchester, was chaired by Victoria Macdonald, the Channel 4 Health and Social Care Correspondent. The event had a great turnout which was standing room only demonstrating people’s commitment to improving employment for those with a disability.

Key note speaker Mark Harper MP, Chair of the learning disability APPG, shared his views on disability employment and how we can increase the amount of people with a learning disability in the workplace. He said that promoting the talent and skills of those with a learning disability, is an opportunity and asset for businesses.

Stimulating panel discussion

This was followed by a panel discussion with Cllr Philip Broadhead, LGA member and Bournemouth Borough Council cabinet member; Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum; Jermaine Williams, a person supported into work by United Response, and United Response CEO Tim Cooper.

The event highlighted the positive impact of having people with a learning disability in the workplace, but there is a need to raise the awareness of those benefits and to push the support available for both employees, such as the Access to Work, which needs to be more accessible and more widely promoted. 

Diane Lightfoot from Business Disability Forum, said:

“Employing people with learning disabilities can have huge benefits for employers.”

In highlighting United Responses vision for people with a learning disability and employment, Tim said:

“We always start with a presumption of employability for people with a learning disability.”

Jermaine, who works doing administration for a care company, said, “Working has made me happy and allowed me to get money and stop watching Jeremy Kyle!”

Cllr Philip Broadhead noted that:

“Keeping people in work is often as important as getting people into it.”

The challenge ahead

Changing perceptions and breaking down barriers is crucial to getting more people with a disability into work. To achieve this, there needs to be better sharing of good practice, understanding of the business case, and promotion of the benefits that employing someone with a disability can have for a business.

Find out about United Responses supported employment services