Statement: Greater clarity needed from Budget Statement says Business Disability Forum

29 October 2018

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget statement on 29 October, Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said:

Research published by Business Disability Forum earlier this month showed the need for better mental health support to be made available for young people, with two-thirds feeling unable to talk about their mental health needs at work or in their place of study. The mental health crisis support announced in Chancellor's statement is a step in the right direction, but we must ensure more is done to offer support to young people as they transition into the world of work or higher education.

“Additional funding for Universal Credit is also welcome, but disabled people both in and out of work still need further assurances that their income will not be negatively affected by the rollout. Some 750,000 disabled people will have to reapply for their benefits as part of the migration process. This is via an online application system which many disabled people have already found to be inaccessible, and yet no alternative has yet been made available.

“There was also much said today about high employment rates, but no mention of disability employment rates, which at 51 per cent are far below the UK average. The Chancellor must do more to ensure that ‘an economy working for everyone’ includes every disabled person and make support available to make that a reality. Otherwise disabled people and the economy will continue to miss out.

“Finally, whilst the additional support announced for small businesses is positive, the fact remains that without a final Brexit plan in place, it remains incredibly difficult for businesses to plan and ensure the needs of disabled employees and customers are met.

“Businesses face many complex issues from the portability of workplace adjustments for colleagues who may be relocated outside the UK to managing the mental wellbeing of staff in uncertain times. Business Disability Forum is experienced in working with global organisations to help them achieve change. We are looking at how that knowledge can now be applied to issues posed by Brexit. 

“There is much to be welcomed in this budget announcement, but without greater clarity business and the disabled people who work for them and do business with them continue to face an uncertain future. There are still many questions left unanswered.”

Ends

1. Business Disability Forum is a not-for-profit member organisation that makes it easier and more rewarding to do business with and employ disabled people. By providing pragmatic support, sharing expertise, giving advice, providing training and facilitating networking opportunities, we help organisations to become fully accessible to disabled customers and employee. Ultimately, our aim is to transform the life chances – and experience – of disabled people as employees and consumers.

We have more than twenty years’ experience of working with public and private sector organisations, formerly as the Employers’ Forum on Disability, where we were instrumental in lobbying for an creating the first meaningful disability legislation in the UK in the shape of the Disability Discrimination Act. Our 300 members now employ around 15% of the UK workforce and range from FTSE 100 companies and central Government departments to transport providers, construction companies, retailers, higher education providers and public services. We also work closely with Government to shape disability policy and to feedback what works – what doesn’t – from our members and partners.

2. For more information about Business Disability Forum, contact Sam Buckley, Press Officer, on samuelb@businessdisabilityforum.org.uk or 020 7089 2471.