Calls for young people with disabilities to be supported under new government job retention plan

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced plans today (8 July) to prevent mass unemployment due to the ongoing pandemic, but charities say more needs to be done to support young people with disabilities.

Discussing jobs, stamp duty, VAT and the hospitality and tourism sectors, the Chancellor laid out a plan that could see firms getting £1,000 for every furloughed worker being brought back plus many additional perks.

However, charities have responded to the job retention scheme saying that more young people with physical, learning and/or sensory disabilities still need supported into employment.

YOUNG WORKERS

The Summer Statement saw the announcement of a “kick-starter” scheme, paying for new six-month work placements for people aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment.  

“Autistic young people are among the most disadvantaged when it comes to getting on the job ladder, with only 16% of autistic people in full time employment,” commented Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism.

“New funding to create more jobs for young people is welcome but it’s crucial that it reaches those who most need help entering employment. 

“Without the right support when moving from education to employment, autistic young people face falling off a cliff edge and out of the job market altogether. 

“Funding must support specialist careers advice and employability programmes for autistic young people, such as supported internships, traineeships and apprenticeships.”  

 RETURNING TO WORK

Similarly, for people living with chronic conditions, the idea of returning to work may be daunting. 

Over the last four months, thousands of people were asked to shield, with many still told to shield until at least the end of July. Being asked to return to work may add unjust pressure.

Phillip Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society, said: “More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK and many of them, especially those who are shielding, feel anxious about returning to work. 

“We’re really disappointed the Chancellor didn’t make any announcements in this area – with financial support coming to an end, vulnerable people may have no choice but to return to work, even if their employer can’t guarantee their safety. 

“A limited, extended furlough scheme is one of the best ways the Government can protect people from having to make this impossible choice. 

People with MS and others that are shielding urgently need reassurance they are protected from financial insecurity.”

BEHIND

Many of the plans and initiatives from the Chancellor have been celebrated. 

From diners giving 50 per cent off on eating out, vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements, and a £1.6bn package of loans and grants for the arts and heritage sector, if all goes ahead the economy is sure to benefit.

However, there are fears people living with a disability may still be left behind.

“The Chancellor mentioned the extension of several job support programs. We would urge him to increase funding and eligibility for Access to Work – a scheme which is a lifeline for many disabled people in securing and maintaining employment,” adds Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum.

“We welcome the help announced by the Government today, but call on the Chancellor to clarify the support that will be available to disabled people and which will ensure, in his own words, that ‘no one is left behind’.”

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