Council failing to employ disabled

BARNSLEY Council is failing to employ enough disabled people - that's the finding of watchdogs who have been taking a close look at its policies for recruiting and keeping disabled workers.

Tuesday, 2nd October 2007, 1:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd October 2007, 10:02 am

The council employs just over 11,000 staff - and only 1.7 per cent of them are disabled.

Now the Regeneration Scrutiny Commission is to recommend ways the council should increase its number of disabled staff, and up the support for the disabled workers already there.

Commission chair Coun Dick Wraith said: “Regardless of a disabled person’s ability, experience or background we know that nationally they experience a range of discriminatory practices when they attempt to find work or training.

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“Even in organisations such as our own, aiming for highest standards in terms of employing disabled people, room for improvement has been identified.

“This investigation is timely, as under the new disability equality guidelines the council has a duty to promote a positive image of disabled people.

“We need to have a more representative workforce in view of the number of people in the borough who are either disabled or have long–term limiting health conditions.

“The commission takes the view that, in addition to the council fulfilling its duty in ensuring the wellbeing of individual members of staff with disabling conditions, it also makes good business sense to ensure everyone can work to their full potential.”

The commission heard evidence from a wide range of witnesses, representing both the council and partner agencies including Jobcentre Plus and trade union representatives.

Members also visited Moorland Plastics in Barnsley to see how the Workstep programme helps people with disabilities into mainstream employment.

A report outlining the findings of the inquiry, together with recommendations for improvement, will be presented to the council’s Cabinet next month.

According to the Disability Rights Commission there are 6.8 million disabled people of working age in Britain - one in five of the total working population.

But only 50 per cent of disabled people of working age are in employment compared to 81 per cent of non-disabled people. One million disabled people without a job want to work.