GLOUCESTERSHIRE County Council (GCC) has become the first local authority in the country to join a national disability campaign.
Disability Confident (DC) is the Government’s two-year campaign to work closely with employers to inspire confidence in them to employ disabled people or those with long term health conditions.
GCC joins a number of prestigious organisations working on the campaign, which was launched by David Cameron last year, including Barclays Bank and KPMG.
Jenny Hincks, a Cotswold District Councillor, whose daughter and husband are disabled, said: “Anything that gets people into employment must be a good thing “It is a good idea as long as they provide the support that is needed to businesses.
“In order to make this work we have to get the business owners on our side. Quite often a stumbling block is that they see a wheelchair and think it is going to take a lot of adaption to the building. But quite often it is just a simple case of providing a ramp into the building or making sure their desk is in the ground floor.”
Through offering information and support and sharing good practice, DC hopes to help businesses’ better understand the needs of disabled people, both when employing someone new through to a member of staff becoming ill or disabled.
As part of the scheme GCC will be developing a number of projects it runs to help disabled people and it will be working with employers to signpost work experience and work for disable people.
Kathy Williams, cabinet member with responsibility for disabilities said: “We are passionate about helping people with disabilities gain employment because of the real difference it makes to people’s lives and the benefits it can bring to local business.”
“As one of the county’s largest employers Gloucestershire County Council is committed to leading by example and is developing a strategy which will see a workforce which is representative of the people that we serve.”
Over the next few months the county council will be promoting the Disability Confident campaign with businesses by helping signposting jobs and work experience for disabled people.
Around 60,000 people in Gloucestershire of working age are living with a disability, but the national employment rate for people with a disability is 47.8%, compared to an 75.9% average.
GCC do not provide any funding to businesses to help them make them improve building access for disabled people but money for that purpose can be sourced through a Department for Work and Pensions grant.