Almost five million of the 11 million people in the UK who experience hearing loss are of working age. Many have lost their job as a direct result of their condition or have had difficulty in finding work.
Action on Hearing Loss is calling for improved employment support and I support this objective. The government needs to do much more to tackle the barriers to work faced by people with disabilities in general. For instance, Action on Hearing Loss has highlighted that 63 per cent of all business leaders had never heard of Access to Work, a programme which provides practical advice and support to both people with disabilities and their employers.
Every organisations with over 250 employees should be required to publish annual figures showing how many have disabilities in order to raise awareness. Specialist disability employment advisers are available in Job Centres to offer support and people should be able to travel to a local Job Centre for support and advice. Instead, as in Liverpool Wavertree, the government is closing local Job Centres.
In October 2016, the UK government set out its proposals to support people with disabilities to find or to stay in work. The consultation on Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper closed in February 2017 and the UK government is currently considering the submissions. I will look closely at the government’s response.