In my role as The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, I recently met with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and discussed its work with small business owners to support more disabled people into employment. Cornwall can be proud that its disability employment rate has now reached 54%, which is higher than the national average of 49%. There is still much to do to close the disability employment gap.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP has been leading work to improve employment outcomes for disabled people and has been chosen as a ‘beacon’ area, working closely with the Government to share findings with other LEPs across England.
Last week I met with a range of organisations in Truro, including Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Exeter and Truro’s Jobcentre Plus along with their community partners, all of whom are working to develop a model that can be applied to other parts of the UK.
The disability employment gap is unacceptable, and we’re committed to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027. The work that is already underway to improve employment prospects for disabled people in the Cornwall area is really promising.
Local social enterprise Pluss was recently awarded the Government’s Work and Health Programme contract for Cornwall. Pluss supports thousands of disabled people to move into sustainable employment each year. The Government’s Work and Health Programme is an employment support programme providing specialised support for people who have been unemployed for more than two years and, on a voluntary basis, to those with health conditions or disabilities.
Pluss are also a Disability Confident Leader. The Disability Confident scheme provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence they need to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees. There are 84 Employers in Cornwall who have joined the Scheme. To find out more about the Disability Confident scheme please visit www.gov.uk/disability-confident.
Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, Mark Duddridge said:
“The availability of skills and labour is a big issue for many businesses and we know there are large numbers of people with disabilities or long term health conditions who want to work, so there’s a real opportunity to bring the two together and address barriers to disability employment.
“The work we are doing with the Minister and her team is designed to break down those barriers and create a model that can be applied in other parts of the UK, and we were delighted to be able to update her on progress.”