United Response welcomes Government’s acknowledgement of the employment challenges facing people with learning disabilities, but substantive action is required.

Responding to Government plans to transform employment prospects for disabled people over the next 10 years, chief executive of United Response, Tim Cooper, said:

“We welcome the fact that Government has set out clear proposals on employment and career opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

“In particular funding for local authorities to set up internship forums and provide job coaches, demonstrates that Government has listened to the sector and recognised the importance of specialised local employment support as key to bringing change.

“We are also pleased that Government is exploring policy options for continuing support to those on Specialist Employability Support (SES), once the current programme ends.

“However, this announcement seems to be a work in progress. It is a good investigation of what further measures might address the 94% unemployment rate among people with learning disabilities, but what is actually needed is substantive action.

“Government departments need to link up employment support and social care, local authorities and schools, to put in place concrete pathways to employment, rather than plans to ‘better understand’ the predicament, which has gone on for far too long.

“Aspirations to encourage the use of supported internships and job coaches aimed at young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), are meaningless unless government provides resources to put these EHCPs in place as it stated it would in the Children and Families Act three years ago.

“We will continue to work with and encourage Government to realise the admirable goals it has set out. But we urge Government to move speedily towards real and substantial change so that people with learning disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. A decade is a huge portion of anybody’s career; nobody should have to wait this long to realise their potential.”