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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-20493: ()

Date lodged: 10 December 2018

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the commitment made by the First Minister earlier in 2018 at an international conference on employment of disabled people, to publish an action plan to address the disability employment gap later this year.

Answered by: Jamie Hepburn 11 December 2018

Later today, the Scottish Government will publish its Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan. This plan outlines our initial steps towards our commitment to reduce the disability employment gap, which currently stands at 35.8%, by at least half.

The gap in Scotland is similar to that at a UK level and, based upon the current rate of change, it has been estimated it could take 200 years to halve the UK gap. We believe disabled people deserve better and that action must be accelerated. The plan therefore sets out an ambitious but realistic timescale for meeting the target to more than halve the gap. We aim to achieve this by 2038, and will review progress annually and set the following interim goals:

  • By 2023 we want to increase the employment rate of disabled people to 50%;
  • By 2030, we aim to achieve an employment rate of disabled people of 60%.

The plan reaches across all parts of government, including Health, Transport, Education, Social Justice and Procurement. It sets out actions which will:-

  • support employers to recruit and retain disabled people;
  • support disabled people into work; and
  • ensure more disabled young people make the successful transition to education, training or work.

Key elements of the plan include:-

  • funding of £6m to tackle child poverty by supporting more disabled parents towards and into work;
  • investment of up to £1m to establish a Public Social Partnership, involving government, employers and disabled people’s organisations, to develop, test, and implement solutions to the barriers that employers face in hiring and retaining disabled people;
  • the setting by the Scottish Government of a target for the employment of disabled people in its own workforce. We will detail this in the Recruitment and Retention Plan which we will publish during the spring 2019;
  • the creation of a bespoke Scottish employability support service, to be in place from January 2020, to meet the needs of disabled people for whom more mainstream employment support is not suitable. This follows the end of UK Government Specialist Employability Support contracts in December 2019, and subsequent devolution of funding to Scotland;
  • development of pathways that enable those seeking to enter or remain in work to access appropriate and timely mental health and employability support, alongside work with employers to support the development of mentally flourishing workplaces; and
  • the investment of up to £500,000 to provide support similar to Access to Work to disabled people undertaking work experience or work trials.

This plan is ambitious but is only the first step towards meeting our objective. It will continue to evolve. We will update it based on the identified priorities of disabled people, the support needs of employers, and as the labour market changes.