"Retention Deficit" - new report by Resolution Foundation

The Resolution Foundation has published a report examining the retention of jobs for people with disabilities. The report finds that the odds of people with disabilities who have been unemployed for more than a year returning to work diminish at twice the rate of non-disabled people. The report, Retention Deficit, calls on the government to revise its “seriously misguided” policy focus on disabled people on benefits. The main contention of this report is that while there are things to be celebrated and continued, the policy focus around employment for people with health problems and disabilities has been too narrow, in three respects. First, it is too benefits-focused, both in terms of the motivation and the preferred method of delivery. Many workless disabled people are not in receipt of benefits, and benefit off-flows do not always equate to sustained employment. The second criticism of the policy agenda is that it’s insufficiently focused on supporting people in work. Stemming from the getting-people-off-benefits rhetoric, the tendency has been to focus on supporting people with health problems or a disability to enter employment. There has been less recognition that supporting people to remain in work can play at least as much of a role in overall outcomes. Building on this employment retention focus, the Resolution Foundation's final criticism of the current policy agenda is that it is too late to engage. A typical trajectory from employment, to sickness absence to worklessness and benefit receipt involves six months in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay, followed by at least three months waiting to be assessed for Employment and Support Allowance and then directed towards back-to-work services. This is a problem because, as is well known, time away from work is a key determinant of the chances of re-entering employment.