How to harness social entrepreneurs to bridge the disability employment gap

Back in March, Amber Rudd – one of the few Cabinet members to survive Boris Johnson’s debut reshuffle – committed the Government “to set a new and more ambitious goal” on disability employment that reduces job drop-out rates. Setting an ambitious goal is one thing, but achieving it is another, so UnLtd decided to step in to help ensure that social entrepreneurs’ innovations are harnessed. Here’s how we got on.

The following month, social entrepreneurs – including our newsletter readers – were openly invited to join a roundtable discussion at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) exploring ways to harness social entrepreneurs to bridge the disability employment gap. More than 20 ventures and other expert organisations fed ideas into a report, which we discussed this month at the launch of the next Thrive in Employment cohort prior to presenting it at a meeting with the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP.

Discussion at UnLtd’s roundtable event at DWP in April

Discussion at UnLtd’s roundtable event at DWP in April

So, how did the meeting go? We were delighted to receive the Minister’s support for the recommendations in the report and we’re now working to implement them as soon as possible. The roundtable convinced us and the Minister that each of the 10 recommendations spanning five key areas - data, funding, support, procurement and recognition – need to be implemented to truly unleash social entrepreneurs to bridge the disability employment gap.

: UnLtd Chief Executive Mark Norbury (centre), Founder of the social venture Ignition Brewery Nick O’Shea (left), and Minister of State Justin Tomlinson MP (right)

UnLtd Chief Executive Mark Norbury (centre), Founder of the social venture Ignition Brewery Nick O’Shea (left), and Minister of State Justin Tomlinson MP (right)

Implementation can’t come soon enough. Whilst the latest official data shows that the disability employment gap is continuing to narrow very gradually, it’s still the case today that a disabled person in the UK is more than twice as likely to be unemployed and looking for work than a non-disabled person.

So, to sound like a politician, there’s a lot done, but there’s a lot more to do. This is just the beginning, but huge thanks go to each of the social entrepreneurs, our partners Scope and all of the other expert stakeholders who have helped us to reach this point. Please give the report a read and don’t hesitate to contact UnLtd’s policy team if you have any thoughts.

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Author Info


Kevin Armstrong Policy Lead

At UnLtd I influence stakeholder policies to help create a future where enterprising people are transforming our world for good. I’m using my background working for charities, social enterprises and governments across the UK to change policies so it’s easier for people to find the enterprising solutions we need to society’s challenges locally and nationally. We can’t improve policies without you, so please keep an eye on the website for opportunities to get involved.

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Download our report Bridging the disability employment gap: How to harness social entrepreneurs. 

Bridging the disability employment gap

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