Poppy Factory, Richmond

Closing the disability employment gap

21 March 2019
  • Only around half of all disabled Londoners are in work.
  • 39% of disabled workers feel they are locked into their current job and would struggle to make a career change.
  • Disabled Londoners of working age are three times less likely to be in work.
  • Many disabled Londoners lack the higher-level qualifications to access many of the jobs the capital creates.

Disabled people in London still fall a long way behind the rest of the workforce in accessing and retaining jobs.

Despite the increase in London's overall employment rate over the past decade, the gap between the employment rate for disabled people (51 per cent) and non-disabled people (79 per cent) remains stubbornly high.

Today, the London Assembly Economy Committee publishes a snapshot report ‘Tackling The Disability Employment Gap’, which highlights the barriers to work for disabled people and shows what a modern employer should be doing to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees.

The report recommendations include:

  • The Mayor should constitute a Disability Employment Taskforce to drive and support change.
  • The London Enterprise and Action Partnership (LEAP) should create a distinct space on its Growth Hub website offering guidance to disabled entrepreneurs and should actively promote organisations which provide help and guidance for employers.
  • Action plans to increase disability employment should be a requirement for companies to gain accreditation for the Mayor’s planned Good Work Standard.

What we say

Susan Hall AM, Chairman of the Economy Committee, said:

“The disability employment gap has barely shifted in a decade. This tells us that changes in workplace culture and infrastructure simply do not go far enough.

“A concerted effort is needed across the board to flatten obstacles and give disabled people access to sustainable and rewarding jobs.

“The Mayor has a significant role to play using his power and influence. But we also hope our report will encourage employers to examine their recruitment and workplace practices and start to introduce measures that are fit for a modern workforce.

“As we heard during our investigation, disabled people represent a pool of talent with a huge contribution to make to London’s prosperity. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation to begin a process that ultimately changes a person’s life.”

What others say

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said:

“This report is a welcome step forward in addressing the challenges facing Londoners with physical and mental health conditions, many of whom will have a strong desire to move into meaningful employment.

“Through the Poppy Factory’s own experience of supporting veterans with health conditions into work in their communities, we know that employment is vital in helping to build an individual’s self-respect, sense of purpose and financial independence. We also know that those with physical or mental health challenges often have valuable and transferable skills that bring great benefits to employers.”

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said:

“We welcome the publication of the Economy Committee’s report today and the spotlight it places on London’s disability employment gap. London is a great place to work and do business, but to stay ahead businesses must recruit the most talented employees and that means being disability smart.

“Thinking differently about disability must be led from the top and that’s why we support Economy Committee’s call today for the Mayor of London to set up a Disability Employment Taskforce and to lead the charge on closing the employment gap.”

James Taylor, Head of Policy at disability equality charity Scope, said:

“Our capital city should be the best city for disabled people in the world, and all disabled Londoners should be given an equal opportunity to thrive, at work and in life. 

"Sadly this is not the case and a lot needs to change to make this a reality. Scope supports the call for the Mayor to establish Disability Employment Taskforce for London to take forward progress."

Joanne Asphall, Head of Programmes, Central London Forward, City of London, said:

“We welcome the publication of this report and believe it is an encouraging step forward in tackling the disability employment gap in London. Central London Forward supports the Economy committee’s recommendations and hopes the report encourages more businesses to join in the conversation.”


Follow us @LondonAssembly and tweet about the report using #AssemblyEconomy and #DisabilityGap

Notes to editors

  1. Read the report here.
  2. Watch a video of the Committee's investigation here.
  3. Susan Hall AM, Chairman of the Economy Committee, is available for interview. See contact details below.
  4. Find out more about the London Assembly Economy Committee
  5. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Giles Broadbent on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

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