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Fighting Exclusion in the Workplace

Fighting Exclusion in the Workplace

Reducing the disability employment gap in Britain

Many of the UK’s 7.9 million disabled people of working age still face significant barriers to securing paid work. Professor Kim Hoque’s research has resulted in reform to disability employment policy that is helping to provide increased access to, and opportunities for, work for disabled people across the UK.

The challenge

Disabled people face severe challenges in the labour market, including a 29 per cent employment gap (with 81% of non-disabled people currently being in employment in the UK compared with 52% of disabled people), and a 15.2% pay gap.

At the current rate, the government’s 2015 manifesto commitment to halve the disability employment gap by 2020 will not be met until 2065.

Our approach

Professor Hoque is a founder member of Disability@Work, and with the group’s other founder members at Cardiff and Bayes Business Schools, he has influenced government policy in particular via his collaboration with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability. This has involved:

  • Co-authorship of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability's landmark report entitled ‘Ahead of the Arc: A Contribution to Halving the Disability Employment Gap’ (which drew extensively on Disability@Work’s research)

  • Promotion of the ‘Ahead of the Arc’ recommendations across government including with the Minister for Disabled People, the Prime Minister’s disability special adviser, BEIS, DWP, HM Treasury

  • Working in collaboration with the APPG for Disability to influence the government’s forthcoming National Strategy for Disabled People (joint meetings with the Cabinet Office Disability Unit, DWP, Prime Minister’s disability special adviser, and Minister for Disabled People)

  • Co-provision (with Disability Rights UK) of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability’s secretariat, enabling Professor Hoque to provide direct support to the APPG’s Chair (Dr Lisa Cameron, MP) and shape the APPG’s strategic agenda.

Our impact

The effects of Professor Hoque’s research have been widespread and significant. His research has influenced:

  • The introduction of apprenticeship targets for disabled people in the Industrial Strategy White Paper (2017), with the aim of increasing by 20% the proportion of apprenticeships going to disabled people

  • Revision of the government’s disability employment commitments. The government’s 2017 election manifesto pledge to get one million more disabled people into employment by 2027 was supplemented in the 2019 manifesto by a stronger pledge to reduce the disability employment gap

  • Reform of the Disability Confident scheme (covering 18,000 employers) Disability Confident ‘level 3’ leaders must now commit to employ at least one disabled individual, and report on their disability employment using the government's framework for Voluntary Reporting on Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • Revision of disability employment criteria within the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, leveraging government procurement to close the disability employment gap

  • Commitment from the Minister for Disabled People to explore reform of the government's framework for Voluntary Reporting on Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • Disability-inclusive response by government to the Covid-19 pandemic, including an open letter from the APPG for Disability to the Prime Minister, signed by over 100 Parliamentarians, calling for a disability-inclusive Covid-19 response.

Commenting on the impact of Professor Hoque’s work on these areas of policy, Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the APPG said:

“In my view, there would have been little chance of these policy changes happening were it not for Kim’s research in these areas, and the work he has undertaken to promote the policy recommendations stemming from his research. His tireless efforts have been instrumental in shifting the narrative within disability policy away from viewing disabled people as passive benefit recipients towards viewing them as an important resource within the economy.”

In 2020, Professor Hoque was appointed to the Centre for Social Justice’s Disability Commission, chaired by Lord Shinkwin. The Commission’s report, published in March 2021, makes extensive reference to the policy recommendations stemming from Professor Hoque’s research, particularly regarding mandatory employment and pay gap reporting, reform to Disability Confident, the leveraging of government procurement, and stronger rights for trade union equality representatives and disability champions.

Following the publication of the report, 50 business leaders (including the CEOs of GSK, Aviva, BNY Mellon Investment Management, Pearson plc, Schroders, ITV, AO, PageGroup, and the Post Office) signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to show, in his forthcoming National Strategy for Disabled People, that he had given careful consideration to the Commission’s recommendations.

Commenting on Professor Hoque’s contribution to the Disability Commission, Lord Shinkwin stated:

“I’d like to thank Professor Hoque for his invaluable input. His wise counsel and expert advice made a huge difference to the success of the Commission’s work, particularly in drawing together and condensing complex arguments. I’m deeply grateful to Warwick Business School for allowing him to play such a key role. The Commission’s submission to the PM’s National Strategy for Disabled People is indisputably the stronger for his input.”

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