Business Disability Forum took note of yesterday's Spring Budget statement by Chancellor Philip Hammond, with CEO Diane Lightfoot offering her views on its implications for disabled people and disability-smart businesses.
Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer of Business Disability Forum, said:
“Yesterday’s budget saw some favourable economic forecasts tempered with a great deal of caution around upcoming Brexit talks. So while the budget did not present too many surprises in itself, it is worth commenting on what further actions could be taken to maintain progress around disability and business.
“Whilst it is very positive to see more funding for social care, which often presents a lifeline for disabled people, other areas of the Budget risk at best slowing, at worst damaging, progress around closing the disability employment gap. The effect of increased business rates is one such example. While the Chancellor announced substantial support packages for heavily impacted organisations there is a risk that such financial pressures will slow progress in closing the disability employment gap, as firms scale back hiring and less money is available for diversity and inclusion initiatives. This financial pressure is particularly relevant for small-to-medium size businesses, where disability-smart cultures tend to be less established or robust in part due to a lack of resources.
“Likewise, changes to the National Insurance contributions paid by self-employed people may disproportionately affect disabled workers, many of whom turn to self-employment due to inaccessible workplaces. This is particularly a problem given the lower rates of mainstream employment among disabled people as a whole.
“These points need careful consideration in light of the continued financial pressure felt by many disabled people, with extra costs associated with conditions compounded by rising inflation.”