Disabled People and Employment

We want to explain some of the ideas that are at the core of the work we do every day. For a more detailed discussion of some of the issues in this piece, see our blog.

We believe in a society in which disabled people participate equally with all others, and live independently.

Disabled people have as much desire to contribute actively to their communities as anyone else, and as much capability to succeed. We are working to change the ways that society currently disables people, and create a world that is fairer for disabled people.

We believe that paid work can increase an individual’s overall independence.

Everyone has the right to an independent income. Many people also find great fulfilment from meeting new people, gaining new skills and participating in the community through their work.

We believe that disabled people still face barriers to achieving and sustaining work.

Many employers still have policies and practices which discriminate against disabled people. Disabled people also face disadvantages, for example, with access to education. We want to educate employers, organisations and policy makers to change this.

We believe that disabled people have the right to work in mainsteam employment of their choice, on an equal basis with others.

Disabled people must have access to the same jobs, for the same pay, as non-disabled people.

We believe a key way to increase the number of disabled people in work is to offer high quality person centred support.

Employment must be seen as part of a whole package of support for overall independence in all aspects an individual’s life.

Other important ways we believe disabled people can be supported into work include:

  • working with employers to end discriminatory policy and practice
  • breaking down barriers to education
  • improving access to apprenticeships
  • working with employers to develop creative recruitment methods, such as paid work trials
  • using peer support to develop confidence, skills and aspirations for work

We believe disabled people should have the right to choose when work is right for them, and when it is not.

Disabled people in and out of work contribute a great deal to the UK economy, and more disabled people in work would be good for businesses as well as individuals. [1] [2] Those disabled people who are not in work must still be fully supported to live happily and independently. They must be valued first and foremost as people, and not judged on their individual economic contribution.

We believe segregated or ‘sheltered’ employment does little to address the ways mainstream employers discriminate against disabled people.

Neither does it address the barriers that prevent disabled people from having an equal stake in all aspects of society. Breakthrough UK was set up in 1997 as an important alternative and replacement for this segregated employment provision.

We believe in suitable, sustainable work for everyone.

No-one should be coerced into work that is unsuitable for them just for the sake of working. No-one should risk losing vital support for choosing not to take up an unsuitable job. Work supports people’s independence when it is fulfilling and sustainable for them, when it relates to their interests, goals, and skills. That’s why we put disabled people’s experiences and the welfare of the individual at the centre, working to support each person to find the jobs they want.

We believe in co-production, and peer support.

This means that disabled people themselves should be involved as equal partners in the decisions that affect their lives. Disabled people have the knowledge and experience to make the best decisions about their own wellbeing, and are the best people to support one another. This is how we reach a society which is fair for disabled people. This is why Breakthrough is led by disabled people. We aim to be a voice for disabled people based on real lived experience.

[1] Enabling work: disabled people, employment and the UK economy, Jenny Guildford, April 2015, Scope

[2] For further discussion, see: http://www.ecnmy.org/engage/why-benefit-cuts-for-disabled-people-could-increase-the-costs-to-the-uk-economy/

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