Improving Lives: 10-year strategy published

The government has set out plans to help more disabled people into work over the next decade. Under 50% of people with a disability are in work compared with 80% of non-disabled people. These employment rates fall to just 5.8% for people with a learning disability.

We are expecting further investment in supported internships and Access to Work will be "significantly enhanced" over the coming year. The paper also points to "new targeted support for learning disabled social service users and secondary mental health support service users".

The strategy, called ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’, builds on last year’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, which called for a comprehensive change to the UK’s approach to disability employment.

It sets out the steps government will take to transform disability employment over the next decade. This includes:

  1. Extending fit note certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses, to better identify health conditions and treatments to help workers go back into their jobs faster. Fit notes are designed to help patients develop a return to work plan tailored to their individual needs.

  2. Conducting large-scale employment research pilots in West Midlands and Sheffield which will include over 11,000 people. This research will gather evidence to help improve services for those with health conditions, supporting them get into and stay in work, and helping make sure services are accessible and inclusive for all.

  3. 2,000 work coaches have received training since 2015 to help them work with benefit claimants with mental health conditions. The government is committed to building on this with the introduction of an enhanced training offer developed with a national mental health charity.

  4. £39 million investment to more than double the number of employment advisors in an existing NHS programme treating people with depression and anxiety disorders.

  5. Responding in full to the 40 recommendations of the Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers – including reforming Statutory Sick Pay, improving advice and support for employers and encouraging transparency. The government is also encouraging other employers to take forward these recommendations.

  6. Over 5,000 companies have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to promote disability inclusion and government is encouraging more companies to sign up.

  7. Appointing an Expert Working Group on Occupational Health to champion, shape and drive a programme of work to take an in-depth look at the sector.

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