Manifesto calls for UK disability, health, and employment strategy

Smiling friendly African American therapist in glasses talking on video call, using sign language, speaking to patient with hearing disability, deafness, showing gestures at screen

Business Disability Forum launched its manifesto last week, calling for the future Government to implement a UK-wide disability, health, and employment strategy.

The manifesto for a disability-inclusive UK sets out five key strategies for creating better experiences and opportunities for disabled people in the workplace, as customers, and in society in general. It also details the key principles needed to achieve change.

Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum, said, “Disability can and does affect everyone, either through personal experience or through the people we know. A joined-up approach to disability inclusion must be at the heart of future policy and decision-making if we want to create an economy and a society that works for everyone and where everyone is valued and included.”

A UK-Wide disability, health, and employment strategy

Business Disability Forum (BDF) is calling for the launch of a UK-wide strategy on disability, health, and employment as one of its five key proposals. The strategy would include:

  • Inclusive and accessible education: Ensuring every disabled person has an inclusive and accessible education journey, allowing them to access the career and future they want. This includes access to adjustments, tailored career advice, and inclusive pathways into employment, such as accessible apprenticeships, supported internships, and post-university support.
  • Workplace adjustments: Prioritising workplace adjustments as a key enabler for disabled people accessing and staying in work. Workplace adjustments are changes employers make to remove barriers experienced by someone with a disability or condition in their role.
  • Repositioning and investing in access to work: Repositioning Access to Work and increasing investment in the service. Access to Work covers the cost of workplace adjustments. BDF is calling for Access to Work to become the go-to service for any disabled person looking for work, in work, setting up a business, or in a voluntary role. It also wants the removal of the current cap, which disadvantages disabled people with higher support costs, and for the service to be extended to all sectors and roles.
  • Reforming sick pay: Reforming sick pay to allow for a gradual return to work, joining up fit note reform with Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) reform. BDF is calling for flexibility within SSP to make it possible for people to have a phased return to work without being financially disadvantaged.
  • Disability and employment data strategy: Introducing a fit-for-purpose disability and employment data strategy focusing on workplace experiences and inclusion. This would move away from measurement by singular figures to better quality data that looks at what helps people remain in work and progress, as well as what stops people from being in work at all.

Disability-inclusive policies

Business Disability Forum is also calling for:

  • Technology for life provision: Ensuring disabled people have access to the technology they need at every stage of life.
  • Accessible and inclusive communications: A UK-wide standard and commitment to clear, accessible, and inclusive communications, requiring the Government and all product and service providers to provide information in accessible formats.
  • Investment in infrastructure: Investing in infrastructure that supports employment and wider inclusion. This includes a strategy for integrated health and social care as a national priority, reliable and accessible public transport, and improved support for carers.
  • Inclusive procurement standard: Covering the accessible and inclusive delivery of everything from core public services to the development of AI and tech.

Business Disability Forum’s manifesto has been informed by employers and businesses in its membership and the disabled people who work in and with those organizations.

Go to Business Disability Forum’s Manifesto for a Disability Inclusive UK page to read the full manifesto.

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