UK employers join Mencap call to get 120,000 more people with a learning disability in to employment over next 10 years

Mencap urges new Government to keep manifesto pledge to get 1 million more disabled people into work and improve employment opportunities for people with a learning disability

Kew Gardens and LEGOLAND® Winsdor Resort amongst employers who have benefited from taking on staff with a learning disability 

  • Fewer than 6% people with a learning disability known to social services are in paid work.
  • Research released this week and employer testimonies have highlighted the financial and reputational benefits of taking on staff with a learning disability.

Mencap is urging the new Government to keep its manifesto pledge to get 1 million more disabled people into work in 10 years and ensure people with a learning disability are given much needed support to help them find paid work – after there was no reference to the pledge in the Queen’s Speech.

Despite having previously committed to halving the disability employment gap in 2015, the employment rate for people with a learning disability known to social services has actually decreased to 5.8%. Mencap wants the Government to commit to getting 120,000 more people with a learning disability into work, the proportion of people with a learning disability within the 1 million disabled people that the Government manifesto references over the next 10 years.

To support this, Mencap has commissioned a research review published this week, by Dr Stephen Beyer and Dr Annie Beyer, which highlights how employers have reported commercial benefits from taking on staff with a learning disability.

Business benefits of employing people with a learning disability outlined in the review:

  • Financial savings – Research shows that by staying in post longer, having fewer sick days and having good punctuality records saves on recruitment and training costs.
  • People with a learning disability stay in their jobs 3.5 times longer than non-disabled co-workers.
  • Better staff morale – Employers have reported overall increased staff morale, increased company productivity and better workforce cohesion.
  • 72.2% of employers regarded the impact on company morale as an important factor in deciding to employ people with a learning disability
  • Improved company reputation
  •  87% of consumers agreed that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities7.

Between 19-25 June, Mencap is marking Learning Disability Week 2017, which is focussing on breaking down the barriers people with a learning disability face when trying to find work.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“For too long people with a learning disability have been forgotten by the job market and overlooked by Government work programmes – despite repeated commitments to the contrary. Employment levels have remained woefully low, meaning hundreds of thousands are missing out on the pride, independence and self-worth that a job offers, and instead left isolated, facing a life on benefits.

“This doesn’t need to be the case. We work with hundreds of employers who regularly tell us of the overwhelming benefits of having someone with a learning disability as part of their business and workforce. This highlights how people with a learning disability can become valued, trusted and productive employees when given the right support. We need the Government to ensure these opportunities are available.

“With the Government’s commitment to get 1 million more disabled people into work we cannot let people with a learning disability be overlooked yet again. Government needs to make good on its promise and deliver real change for people with a learning disability. They must now work with employers to change their recruitment strategies and give businesses the step up they need to reap the many benefits from taking on staff with a learning disability.”

Lisa Atkinson, HR Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort said:

We started working with Mencap when a candidate expressed an interest in joining the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort team.  We believe in providing equal opportunities to everyone looking to work with us, so we were delighted that Thomas wanted to join our team.

“Thomas has been a fantastic addition and had a very positive impact on our team; boosting morale and raising awareness of what a person with a learning disability can achieve. His support worker visited the Resort to observe Thomas at work and provide any support needed, which was real bonus.

“We are delighted to have been able to give Thomas, and many other employees with a learning disability, the opportunity to work in a fun environment with brilliant opportunities for development and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Mencap.”

Ray Townsend, Arboretum Manager at Kew Gardens, who works with Anthony Knight, who has a learning disability, said:

“As time has gone on he has become more familiar and especially familiar with how things have changed at Kew and he’s now fitted into the team, and fitted into the role as a rock solid member of staff and as someone I can rely on. He doesn’t mess around, he gets on with the job and is a firm foundation for the team, an important player really.

“Give people with a learning disability a chance, give them a chance to prove themselves, because as far as I’m concerned Anthony is a rock solid member of the team, I think if you can just give them a chance and the opportunity, to prove themselves show what they can do. I’m sure you’ll get the right results in the end.”

Diana Breeze, HR Director at Land Securities, said:

“Our three-year partnership with Mencap has left a big impression on us as a business. Not only have our employees enjoyed meeting some of the people with a learning disability that Mencap supports and learned a great deal about the challenges they face when trying to find work. It has also given them the opportunity to develop their professional skills. It’s been a win-win.” 

Raj Panasar, Partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, said:

“Our involvement with Mencap has been a great extension of our belief in diversity. We believe that all employers, including other law firms, can benefit from opening up their talent pools to people with a learning disability. We have learned how much people with a learning disability can offer.

“As with all recruitment, it’s a question of matching the right role with the right person. Employers need to be educated about how best to recruit people with a learning disability and to tailor roles accordingly. The people who have come to us have performed impressively and Mencap’s employability consultants have been exceptional in supporting us throughout. We commend the scheme to others. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What’s not to like about getting the best people for the job?”

Anthony Knight, has a learning disability and works as an Arboretum Horticulturalist at Kew Gardens. He said:

“I was really happy when I found out I got the job. I believe I can thrive at Kew, it feels very good to be earning money, it helps me to do new things and gives me a sense of achievement.”

Charlotte Aspley has a learning disability and works as a Customer Assistant at Tesco. She said:

“I feel companies should take on more people with learning disabilities. I don’t think companies consider us enough for jobs and it would benefit the company and also the young people working for them.  I’ve benefited so much from my job. It has made me such a different person by having a job, I’ve got better social skills and a great social life and I’ve learnt so much from being at work.”

In order to meet the Government’s commitment, Mencap recommends spotlight to be placed on:

  • improving access to apprenticeships
  • growing the number of supported internships
  • improving employer knowledge of how to recruit and support people with a learning disability in work
  • ensuring effective employment support is available to look for and stay in work, including for people with a learning disability on Job Seekers Allowance
  • boosting the number of job coaches
  • reform of the failed Work Capability Assessment which continues to incorrectly assess people with a learning disability as being ‘fit-for-work’

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

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