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Helping disabled people into work

23/02/2010

Thousands of disabled armed forces veterans are among those who will benefit from new support aimed at helping all disabled people who want to work into sustained, paid employment.

Just under half (48.1 per cent) of disabled people in Scotland are in work, compared to around 75 per cent of the general population. There is considerable variation in the employment rates for different health problems or disabilities, with less than one in five people with severe learning difficulties in paid work.

In addition, an estimated 28,000 armed forces veterans in Scotland, more than half of whom have a long term illness or disability, are unemployed. In 2007-08, 38 per cent of children living in a family with a disabled adult were in poverty compared to 16 per cent in a family without a disabled adult.

Skills and Lifelong Learning Minister Keith Brown said the Supported Employment Framework for Scotland has been created to knock down barriers to work and offer people help to find and maintain employment, an issue which is more pressing than ever given the current economic climate.

Mr Brown said:

"Far too many people with much to contribute to society and Scotland's future are being excluded, for a variety of reasons, from the workforce. Every level of government is committed to creating a more successful country and the only way we can do that is by ensuring that we provide opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish.

"This framework sets out our shared determination for supporting disabled people, who want to work, into employment. At its heart is the desire to see a more consistent, people-centred approach to supporting those who want to work.

"To make this happen, supported employment needs to become an integral part of the work we do to address the needs of disabled people and those with long-term health conditions."

The framework - produced in conjunction with Cosla following a report by the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee - intends to:

  • Raise awareness about the contribution supported employment can make to economic growth, to employment, to social inclusion and to the health and wellbeing of disabled people
  • Ensure that supported employment is seen by local authorities and their partners as a valued and integral part of local mainstream employment services
  • Help agencies work together to make sure that individuals are not caught in a 'training cycle' but make the transition from training to paid employment

Bruce Brodie, Vice-Chair of the Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE), said:

"The Scottish Union of Supported Employment welcomes the "Supported Employment Framework for Scotland" document as a major catalyst in the ongoing development of employment focussed services for people with disabilities.

"The Framework's underpinning commitment to person centred planning and support, recognised national quality standards for service delivery, practitioner development and long-term sustainable funding align perfectly with our vision for the future of supported employment.

"SUSE looks forward to working with the Scottish Government and COSLA in implementing and achieving these goals, ultimately leading to improved access to sustained employment for some of the most disadvantaged people in Scotland."

Employment rates vary widely. In 2008, people with diabetes, severe disfigurement, skin problems or difficulties in hearing had employment rates much close to the Scottish average (75.6 per cent). However, people with depression or severe learning difficulties have very low employment rates (24.7 per cent and 17 per cent respectively). In addition around 28,000 veterans in Scotland are known to be out of work - more than half of them have long-term illness or disability and 20 per cent have multiple conditions.