Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

The government’s unhelpful and abhorrent plans will leave disabled people destitute

The Work and Health Programme (WHP) is to be scrapped in the Autumn, personal independence payment (PIP) is being reviewed and potential cuts to benefits.

The government have declared that disabled people will be forced back into work, regardless of medical condition, whilst taking away the only tool they provided to help them achieve that. Billionaire Rishi Sunak describes this as a ‘moral mission’ to help people into work.

We describe it as an all-out attack on disabled people. 

Nothing sums up the Conservative Party rhetoric like the trite old saying, “Give someone a fish and they will eat for a day. Teach someone to fish and they will eat for a lifetime”. The notion that we can all better ourselves by pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. Of course, if you follow Tory policy, a more accurate quote would be, “Demonise disabled people. Cheer as we take away the fish, snap the rod in half then throw it into the ocean.”

Could you be next? - Inclusion is everyone’s business

Disability is the one protected characteristic that can happen to any of us overnight.

We want to ask voters to think about this.

Are you of working age? What’s your current job? Take a minute to think about what happens if you or your loved ones have a stroke, or lose your hearing, or end up with diabetes related sight loss or have an accident. That fishing rod could very much come in handy one day.

Those who can and want to work face many barriers already, including:

  • The widespread (and erroneous) belief that disabled people are somehow lazy and workshy, and not as ‘good’ or ‘worthy’ as non-disabled people – a view promoted by the government’s “rationale” for trying to starve them into submission with no support
  • Inaccessible recruitment processes that automatically put them at a disadvantage
  • Employers fearing that hiring disabled people is an expensive risk – fuelled by assumptions that we’re unproductive, always off sick, and don’t want to work

Putting #TalentFirst

Employers too need to stop thinking about disabled people as a burden and start to appreciate the additional extra skills they bring and put their talents first. We know that companies who are more inclusive are more profitable, better represent their customers and have better team morale.

Disabled employees tend to have less time off sick. Evenbreak only employs disabled people. 100% of our team are disabled. Not one of our team has needed a sick note in the past 13 years.

The Work and Health Programme (WHP)

The Work and Health Programme (WHP), had its flaws but it provided a service and delivered. 300,000 people were helped into work and 31% are still employed after two years. The programme offers support with confidence building, CV writing, reframing disabilities and helping candidates to find employers who are somewhat more enlightened.

Without this support and without changing the narrative around disability, talented disabled people will either be pushed even further into poverty and destitution, or into completely unsuitable work that is likely to impact negatively on their disability or health condition.

Filling the gap

To signpost as many candidates as possible to the programme, Evenbreak set up the Career Hive to provide a single place where disabled candidates could find information about support available to them – and where there was no provision, we offer career coaching to candidates. This is free of charge to candidates and delivered by qualified career coaches with lived experience of disability.

We also offer resources and tools to help disabled candidates find work. Initially funded as part of the Nesta Rapid Recovery Challenge (who identified that disabled people had been disproportionately affected by the Covid pandemic), the Career Hive is now funded from any surplus revenue from our primary function, an accessible job board run by and for disabled people and training and consultancy for organisations that want to be more inclusive.

Disabled candidates are premium candidates

We refer to our candidates as premium candidates because of all the other skills they have acquired navigating a world that’s not built for them.

We recently commissioned a social impact study that showed on average – a candidate finding work through Evenbreak has a social impact value of over £47,000. 

So rather than removing a tool that (although not perfect) helped disabled people to find new or better work the onus is going to be on small organisations like Evenbreak and the hundreds of others out there who get ZERO funding from the government to help disabled people.

Our employers are all looking for talented disabled candidates – but they are a handful of enlightened UK & Global organisations we’re proud to partner with. Until the rest of the UK catches up and the Government stops demonising disabled people to cover up for their own catastrophic failings we will never meet our aim, which is to no longer be needed because the disability employment gap has been closed.

If you are disabled and reading this, we empathise with the challenges you now face and encourage you to have your voices heard in the polling stations.

If you are an employer reading this, then tap into a new talent pool of disabled people.

And finally, if you are the government reading this, do better.