The chancellor’s opportunity to make it a strong budget for disabled people
18 March 2014
by Peter Hand
Tomorrow the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, will deliver his budget.
Of course there will be lots of debate about the state of the economy and what can be done to create more growth, and there will be plenty of new policies and proposals to consider.
But it will be particularly important for government ministers in the Treasury — and George Osborne in particular — to consider what they can put in place to support disabled people.
Around 1 in 6 people in the UK have a disability. For the economy to fully recover, it is important that everyone has an equal chance to work. Disabled people are currently far less likely than non-disabled people to be in work — so making sure that those who want to work are properly supported is one thing that the chancellor could do to really improve the economy.
The chancellor could consider support for disabled people to set up their own business — disabled entrepreneurs are making an increasingly important contribution to the economy. Or he could consider incentives to help more employers give jobs to disabled people, for example by introducing a freeze on employer’s National Insurance (NI) contributions for disabled employees.
More disabled people in the workplace would help to show employers that disabled people have just as much talent as everyone else and deserve the same opportunities to work. Businesses that exclude disabled people are missing out on a huge pool of talent.
Employing disabled people makes business sense — which is why we launched our Change100 scheme to bring employers and disabled talent together. The scheme will provide a paid work placement for talented students that fit suitable employers, alongside mentoring support to enable them to succeed.
As well as providing opportunities for employment, the budget should also be used as an opportunity to invest in further support for social care.
As members of the Care and Support Alliance, we want the chancellor to use the budget to give local authorities the resources they need to provide a properly funded social care system for disabled and elderly people. More and more people need care, and yet the resources available are actually going down — something has to change.
There are many things that the chancellor could announce tomorrow, but making this a strong budget for disabled people would be one thing that really could help improve the economy.
Help us continue to put pressure on the government to improve employment opportunities for disabled people by joining our campaigns network.
Peter Hand is public affairs manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability.