Minister launches network to improve the workplace for those with disabilities

Sarah Newton

New Minister for Work and Health Sarah Newton has visited KPMG to launch a network aimed at encouraging Midlands employers to improve workplace opportunities for people with disabilities or mental health issues.

The MidlandsAbility network, which has been created by Richard Day, an assistant manager at KPMG, seeks to drive change and improvement at work for people with disabilities and mental health problems.

Through sharing best practice on recruitment, retention, accessibility and culture change, Richard believes the network can make a difference to the lives of many.

The network now has over 30 members, including: National Grid, HSBC, Birmingham City Council, HS2, Highways England, The Solicitors Regulation Authority, Shakespeare Martineau and Jaguar Land Rover.

KPMG is part of Disability Confident, a scheme that aims to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people. The scheme celebrated its first anniversary last month, with more than 5,000 organisations now signed up.

“Enabling more disabled people who want to work, into work, is vitally important. It is great to see that almost 600,000 disabled people have gained employment in the last four years, and it’s essential that we build on this,” said the Minister, who took up her new role earlier this month.

“We all have a role to play in changing the mindset around disability, and employers in the Midlands are stepping up to the challenge by creating more inclusive workplaces.

“I’m determined to maintain this momentum across the country so that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential at work.”

Almost a fifth of the working age population is disabled, yet only an estimated 49 per cent of disabled people are currently in work.

The Disability Confident scheme is one strand of the Government’s strategy to halve this employment gap. The scheme is voluntary and has been developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives.

Mr Day added: “We recognise how important mental health and wellbeing is for our people, and what I personally feel sets us apart is how inclusive our culture is, embracing the differences that each person brings to work every day.

“The launch event was a huge success, with over 140 attendees, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the MidlandsAbility network as it grows and develops. By working together with the members we’ll be able to promote, encourage and drive change as we have an opportunity to make a huge difference to people’s lives.”