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Spring Budget 2024: Business Disability Forum responds

Business Disability Forum has called into question the Government’s commitment to support disabled people to find and stay in work in its response to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget statement today.

Big Ben.

The Chancellor delivered his Spring Budget in Parliament

Business Disability Forum’s Head of Policy, Angela Matthews, said:

“Today’s budget saw important investment to build and grow businesses across the UK. However, with this being the last budget before a general election, the Government missed a crucial opportunity to demonstrate its level of commitment to supporting disabled people in the labour market, which is itself a key factor in inclusive growth. The Chancellor opened by acknowledging that unemployment has halved. The reality for disabled people though is that it hasn’t.

“Access to Work remains the single most pivotal scheme that helps employers support disabled people into work and stay in work. Yet, every year, the budget fails to invest in a long-term, sustainable strategic financial ambition to keep the scheme functioning as businesses and disabled individuals need it to. Drastic decreases in waiting times, the opportunity for someone with a disability to apply to the scheme as soon as they want to look for a job, and removal of the support cap are improvements to the scheme that Government has repeatedly overlooked in its financial commitments.

“While the Government continues to discuss getting people out of long-term economic inactivity and into work, it has made little effort to look at how financially disadvantaged people can become by our country’s current sick pay system. Removal of waiting days and enabling statutory sick pay to be accessed alongside a phased return will help people return to work sooner. It also reduces the risk of people falling back into financially disadvantageous absence again.

“We were pleased to see investment to improve key areas of the NHS. Our Members continue to feel the pressure of an overwhelmed NHS where employees are signed off sick or on disability leave due to being held up in lengthy NHS waiting lists. The Chancellor’s mention of patient choice is also critical in enabling employees to manage their conditions around work.

“The NHS’s IT systems and apps remain a challenge and, for many, a key barrier to accessing health services and choice. We are therefore keen to see these developments being co-produced and inclusively designed and truly barrier free.

“Many disabled employees told us that their multiple conditions are managed by multiple specialist hospitals and medical teams. This frequently causes frustration that their hospital records systems do not integrate with one another, and the Chancellor’s announcement of an investment to resolve this is therefore also good news. All of these interventions together will make it easier for disabled employees to return to work, stay in work, and manage their condition independently while at work.

“There is not enough in this budget, however, to create, in the Chancellor’s words, a “high wage, high skill” labour market where people with disabilities and conditions are included and can take part fully and with the right support. This calls into question the Government’s commitment to reducing the disability employment gap and ensuring full participation for disabled people in every area of the UK’s economy.”


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