The Chancellor has unveiled the contents of his first Budget in the House of Commons.
Here, Rob Geaney, RNID’s Campaigns and External Affairs Lead, breaks down what RNID are pleased to see and what we will continue to campaign for.
Let’s begin with the positives of this Budget:
RNID welcome the focus within the budget on supporting disabled people, which includes deaf people, people with hearing loss or tinnitus. The budget promises to provide support for people getting into work, and to increase support for people who are economically inactive due to their disability or long-term health condition.
We were pleased with the announcement regarding the Universal Support Scheme which will offer 50,000 people a year with additional help to access employment. This scheme needs to ensure deaf people can access funding to pay for communication support, such as a qualified British Sign Language interpreter or Speech to Text reporter, which will give them equal access to training and volunteering.
It is positive to see that the government shares our desire to ensure that people over the age of 50 who want to work do not face additional barriers due to long-term health conditions or disabilities. We hope that existing support programmes such as Access to Work are highlighted to people who may benefit, and that people are made aware of the reasonable adjustments they are entitled to so that they can thrive in the workplace.
However, there are a number of aspects to this Budget, which cause us concern: RNID are disappointed that the Government have not delivered on their promise to set a new target for closing the disability employment gap. This target would have allowed the Government to measure the success of the overall package of support announced today. This target must be set in the upcoming Disability Action Plan, if not before.
There was a huge opportunity to address the crisis which is impacting Access to Work, meaning that deaf people and people with hearing loss are left without communication support for up to twenty weeks whilst they wait for an assessment. This can put jobs at risk and it is simply not acceptable, and we are disappointed that the opportunity to address this crisis has been missed, and that the White Paper does not address the issue
The Access to Work Plus Scheme, states that there will be a new package for disabled people who need more support than the existing scheme can provide. However, BSL users on the existing scheme are particularly harmed by the limits to the amount of support they can claim. We will continue to highlight the negative impact that limited and delayed support through Access to Work has on deaf people.
More needs to be done to improve information for employers to enable them to support disabled employees. The Disability Confident scheme urgently needs to be reformed, and the government must create an Employers’ Disability Information Hub to provide employers with the support they need. It is inappropriate that the responsibility for providing employers with information on disabled workers has been given to the Health and Safety Executive, and we are concerned that this will stigmatise disabled people as a Health and Safety problem to employers.
We are also disappointed to see no mention of legislation to require businesses to report on the number of disabled people they employ. This information could provide essential insight for employers and industry to do more to support deaf and disabled employees, and we urge the Government to legislate to require this reporting from large employers.
We understand that there will be a lot of discussion on many different aspects of the Budget and it can sometimes be quite overwhelming. If you need information or support, please get in touch.