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Working futures?

Working futures?: Disabled people, policy and social inclusion

Alan Roulstone
Colin Barnes
Copyright Date: 2005
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  • Book Info
    Working futures?
    Book Description:

    Working futures? looks at the current effectiveness and future scope for enabling policy in the field of disability and employment. By addressing the current strengths and weaknesses of disability and employment policy, the book asks Is the dichotomy of 'work for those who can and support for those who cannot' appropriate to the lives of disabled people? Does current and recent policy reduce or reinforce barriers to paid employment? What lessons from other welfare regimes can we draw on to further disabled people's working futures? The book is original in bringing together a wide range of policy insights to bear on the question of disabled people's working futures. It includes analyses of recent policy initiatives as diverse as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Draft Disability Bill, the benefits system, New Deal for Disabled People, job retention policy, comparative disability policy, the role of the voluntary sector and 'new policies for a new workplace'. Contributions from academics, NGOs, the OECD and the disabled peoples' movement bring multiple theoretical, professional and user perspectives to the debates at the heart of the book.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-143-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures, tables and boxes
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Alan Roulstone and Colin Barnes
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. List of abbreviations
    (pp. x-xi)
  7. Notes on contributors
    (pp. xii-xx)
  8. INTRODUCTION: Working futures: disabled people, employment policy and social inclusion
    (pp. 1-14)

    Few areas of social policy have received more attention than disability and employment policy during the lifetime of the New Labour governments (DSS, 1998; DWP, 2001, 2002a; PMSU, 2004, 2005). The urgency and weight of issues are illustrated in the myriad policy and programme changes that have taken place since 1997 (Burchardt, in Millar, 2003, pp 145–66). However, an essential paradox remains: how is it that, despite much policy effort in the UK to enhance the employment activity of disabled people, these efforts have not been reflected in significantly enhanced employment outcomes (Burchardt, 2000; ONS, 2002; Labour Force Survey,...

  9. Part One: Work, welfare and social inclusion:: challenges, concepts and questions

    • ONE The challenges of a work-first agenda for disabled people
      (pp. 17-28)
      Alan Roulstone and Colin Barnes

      The weight of historical disadvantage experienced by disabled job seekers and workers is now well documented (Barnes, 1991; Burchardt, 2000; DWP, 2001; ONS, 2002a, 2002b; Burchardt, in Millar, 2003, pp 145–66; DRC, 2004a; PMSU, 2004). The principal policy response has been an increased governmental emphasis on ‘welfare through work’ and ‘work-based welfare’ (Giddens, 1998).

      The focus on paid work as the primary source of social well-being has been further emphasised by New Labour policies (DSS, 1998a; HM Treasury, 2001). The continued rise in sickness and disability benefits from 1997 has been a key driver of policy reform, while the...

    • TWO The missing million: the challenges of employing more disabled people
      (pp. 29-42)
      Kate Stanley

      More disabled¹ people are out of work and claiming disability-related benefits than when the Labour government came to power in 1997 (ONS, 1997, 2003a). At the same time, more disabled people are in work. This is possible because the overall number of people with longterm ill-health or a disability has grown to seven million and the employment rate of disabled people is hovering at just under 50% (ONS, 2002). The scale of the challenge of supporting more disabled people into work must not be under-estimated.

      Since 1997, the number of people of working-age claiming benefits relating to unemployment has been...

  10. Part Two: The current policy environment

    • THREE New Deal for Disabled People: what’s new about New Deal?
      (pp. 45-58)
      Bruce Stafford

      The aim the Labour government’s employment policy is “to ensure a higher proportion of people in work than ever before by 2010” (HM Treasury, 2003, para 4.1). For disabled people, this has been translated into a Public Service Agreement target for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of increasing over the three years from 2003 to 2006 the employment rate of people with disabilities and significantly reducing the difference between this rate and the overall employment rate. The New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) is Labour’s main employment programme for people in receipt of a disability or incapacity-related benefit,...

    • FOUR Disabled people, employment and the Work Preparation programme
      (pp. 59-74)
      Sheila Riddell and Pauline Banks

      According to Floyd and Curtis (2000), it is the aim of all European governments to increase the economic activity of disabled people. From the government’s point of view, there is a perception that the cost of the growth in the number of disabled people claiming long-term disability benefits is unsustainable, but also that non-employment brings financial and health risks to disabled people and their families. From the perspective of the disability movement, exclusion from employment is one of the principal barriers to social inclusion. However, the disability movement is also committed to preserving benefits levels of those who cannot work...

    • FIVE Legislating for equality: evaluating the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
      (pp. 75-90)
      Nigel Meager and Jennifer Hurstfield

      This chapter presents selected findings from some recent studies of the workings of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (see Hurstfield et al, 2004). In particular, it focuses on the third of a series of studies, which looked at the Act’s implementation through in-depth case studies of participants in cases and potential cases¹, although we also incorporate some findings from the first two studies (Leverton, 2002; Meager et al, 1999a)

      The DDA came into force in December 1996. Under the employment provisions (Part Two of the Act), it is unlawful to treat a disabled employee less favourably than a non-disabled employee...

    • SIX Disability frameworks and monitoring disability in local authorities: a challenge for the proposed Disability Discrimination Bill
      (pp. 91-106)
      Ardha Danieli and Carol Woodhams

      Since the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) (DDA), employers have increasingly put in place policies and practices designed to shape their disability management practice (EOR, 2003; IRS, 2003; Hurstfield et al, 2003). The amendments to the DDA in the form of the Disability Discrimination Bill (DDB) (now the Disability Discrimination Act 2005) are likely to increase such activities. While all employers are required to ensure that they comply with the legislative requirements, in the public sector the replacement of Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) with ‘Best Value’ has placed further requirements on Local Authorities (LAs) to improve their service...

    • SEVEN Job retention: a new policy priority for disabled people
      (pp. 107-120)
      Geof Mercer

      The New Labour government elected in 1997 stressed its commitment to promote social inclusion, and prioritised a broad programme of ‘welfare-to-work’ initiatives to move people out of unemployment and dependence on social security benefits and into paid work (DSS, 1998). While the primary focus has been on ‘pathways to work’ issues (DWP, 2002), this chapter concentrates on the extension of this policy agenda to ‘job retention’ and sustained employment.

      The discussion begins by outlining the interest in job retention and then consider the different programmes directed at disabled people. In practice, the design of employment support policies and the development...

    • EIGHT Benefits and tax credits: enabling systems or constraints?
      (pp. 121-134)
      Anne Corden

      In rebuilding the welfare state to enable ‘Work for those who can, security for those who cannot’ (DSS, 1998), New Labour saw the need for a radical joined-up strategy in order to include disabled people in the general policy shift towards work. The central elements of the new government’s overall reform strategy for long-term sick and disabled people were active tailored help and encouragement for those who want to move into work; removing disincentives in the benefit rules and system; ensuring that work pays, and tackling discrimination and promoting change in the workplace. Thornton (2000) has discussed the strengths and...

    • NINE Challenging the disability benefit trap across the OECD
      (pp. 135-152)
      Mark Pearson and Christopher Prinz

      Increasingly, disability benefits have become a trap for potential recipients who, once on benefit, typically stay there until retirement age. They are equally a trap for policy makers, who face — and, by and large, have failed to address — a choice between spending both political and financial capital in reforming what in nearly every country are patently seriously flawed policies, or ‘letting sleeping dogs lie’. Unfortunately, there appear to be few votes to be gained by reforming disability policies. Only when policy begins to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions do governments summon up the courage to introduce change....

    • TEN Jobcentre Plus: can specialised personal advisers be justified?
      (pp. 153-164)
      Patricia Thornton

      Government has embraced the concept of personal advisers providing individually tailored advice and support to benefit claimants. Recent years have witnessed a move towards such personalised support not just in its flagship New Deals but also in the mandatory ‘work-focused interview’ regime for new claimants. In the latter, there has been a pronounced shift towards specialist advisers working with claimants of incapacity benefits while there has been no special focus on people with health problems or impairments in the mainstream New Deals. The move towards specialism is contrary to the position of the government’s advisory committee for disabled people in...

    • ELEVEN Disability and employment: global and national policy influences in New Zealand, Canada and Australia
      (pp. 165-174)
      Neil Lunt

      The study of social policy in the post-war period focused on the activities of nation-states and in particular the development of welfare state institutions. During this time, the range of policy actors: politicians, bureaucrats, pressure groups and voters, all held the belief that domestic intervention could help shape the economic and welfare futures of the population, mitigating any international turbulence that arose. While the 1960s and 1970s witnessed growing interest in comparative and cross-national analysis, the nation-state still remained the basic unit of analysis in these endeavours. During more recent decades however a suite of global changes have lent social...

    • TWELVE Disabled people and ‘employment’ in the majority world: policies and realities
      (pp. 175-190)
      Peter Coleridge

      Attempts to summarise conditions in ‘the majority world’ are fraught with great difficulty. Generalisations are dangerous. The difference in the economy and living standards between, say, Malawi and Thailand are enormous. (Malawi has a GNI of $160 per capita, a life expectancy of 37 years, and an infant mortality rate of 113 per 1,000 live births. Thailand has a GNI of $2,190, a life expectancy of 69.2 years, and an infant mortality rate of 24 per 1,000 live births.)

      The emphasis in this chapter, therefore, is on broader economic deprivation or poverty rather than specific countries. Clearly employment and unemployment...

  11. Part Three: Towards inclusive policy futures

    • THIRTEEN Employment policy and practice: a perspective from the disabled people’s movement
      (pp. 193-206)
      David Gibbs

      This chapter draws on useful insights from organisations of disabled people, their implications for future employment policies and practice. Disabled people have perhaps surprisingly been overlooked in the design, implementation and review of much disability employment policy. I will identify not only evidence of deficits in current policy and practice, but also the roots of these deficits. This chapter will also describe, not only a basis for practical solutions, but also the need for a shift in our understanding of the disability and employment ‘problem’. Put another way, I will ask ifsocial model praxismight be used to carry out...

    • FOURTEEN Changing minds: opening up employment options for people with mental health problems
      (pp. 207-218)
      Jenny Secker and Bob Grove

      Historically, if people with enduring mental health problems have been seen as capable of work at all, this has been framed as ‘therapy’ to be undertaken in sheltered, socially excluded settings. Real work in real workplaces has been seen as something to be put off until recovery, in the clinical sense of the disappearance or control of ‘symptoms’, is complete, in effect indefinitely for many people. This chapter starts by examining that historical context, contrasting it with the research evidence regarding the work aspirations of people with enduring mental health problems and their potential to become valued employees. The authors...

    • FIFTEEN Enabling futures for people with learning difficulties? Exploring employment realities behind the policy rhetoric
      (pp. 219-232)
      Dan Goodley and Ghashem Norouzi

      In this chapter, we contemplate the current nature of employment for people with learning difficulties and aim to envisage an enabling future. We critically consider some of the contemporary employment policies and programmes in Britain, make reference to a recent study of work experiences of people with learning difficulties and unpack the discourses and philosophies that underpin some of the interventions of professionals and policy makers.

      First, we outline what we mean when we use the term ‘learning difficulties’. Second, we explore how employment is considered in the 2001 White Paper,Valuing people.Third, we critically examine the impact of...

    • SIXTEEN Barriers to labour market participation: the experience of Deaf and hard of hearing people
      (pp. 233-244)
      Jennifer Harris and Patricia Thornton

      The labour-market situation of Deaf¹, deafened and hard of hearing people has never been robustly and systematically researched in the UK. There are beliefs that these groups can be poorly served by public careers and employment services, can be restricted by service providers’ and employers’ assumptions about suitable work, may take jobs below their abilities, may earn less than hearing people and see restricted opportunities for job mobility and career progression. In sum, it is believed that Deaf and hard of hearing people face multiple and cumulative disadvantages in accessing worthwhile jobs and pursuing careers.

      This chapter reviews the research...

    • SEVENTEEN Work matters: visual impairment, disabling barriers and employment options
      (pp. 245-258)
      Philippa Simkiss

      As the 500th Jobcentre Plus office opens in Middlesbrough and the UK government talks about ‘full employment in every region’ (DWP, 2003), this chapter draws attention to the high proportion of blind and partially sighted people who are not in work. It highlights the issues facing blind and partially sighted job seekers, examines critically the interventions that have been designed to help them into work, and suggests solutions and recommendations to policy makers and employers alike about how best to redress the current situation.

      The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) is the leading voluntary sector organisation supporting people...

    • EIGHTEEN Disabled people and employment: the potential impact of European policy
      (pp. 259-272)
      Hannah Morgan

      The European project, currently realised in the European Union (EU), has it foundations in the economic and inherently capitalist imperatives of the initial European Economic Community (EEC) established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The primary focus of the embryonic community was on facilitating economic integration, with wider social issues considered only insofar as they were deemed necessary to achieve the functioning of the common market. Thus, it is in this context that an employment-based disability policy emerged.

      In the 50 years since its inception, the rationale of this project has evolved both in scope and scale to a...

    • NINETEEN Missing pieces: the voluntary and community sector’s potential for inclusive employment
      (pp. 273-286)
      Lorraine Gradwell

      The voluntary and community sector (VCS) contains over 162,000 registered charities as well as a large number of unregistered not-for-profit organisations, associations, self-help groups and community groups. The sector includes small community-based organisations with no paid staff through to large charities with thousands of paid staff and multi-million pound incomes. Drake (1996) chronicles the development of the charitable sector, from its roots in the wake of the industrial revolution through to the modern day. He outlines how the sector has adapted according to social changes, successfully transforming itself from having principally a shelter and alms-giving function to being a modern...

    • TWENTY Professional barriers and facilitators: policy issues for an enabling salariat
      (pp. 287-300)
      Bob Sapey and Jeannine Hughes

      Using social work as a case study, this chapter explores the barriers and facilitators that operate within a number of human services professions in relation to disabled people’s access to those occupational groups. In particular, we are interested in examining how the current legislative context in the UK relates to the tendency to define the skills and knowledge of those entering professions through competence standards. Do these provide a means of greater or fairer access to disabled people or do they constitute an additional barrier?

      There is a distinct lack of a comprehensive analysis in relation to disabled workers in...

    • TWENTY ONE Disabled people, the state and employment: historical lessons and welfare policy
      (pp. 301-314)
      Jon Warren

      This chapter seeks to show how the social policies of the past have shaped and still inform the current strategies that are being both pursued and proposed in the field of disability, employment and welfare. It focuses on the relationship between the individual the state and the question of employment. The social policy of New Labour can be typified by the proposition that ‘Work is better than welfare’. Since 1997, the welfare-to-work principle and New Deal programme have been applied to young people, lone parents, the long-term unemployed and of course disabled people. This targeted approach to certain sections of...

    • TWENTY TWO ‘Work’ is a four-letter word: disability, work and welfare
      (pp. 315-328)
      Colin Barnes and Alan Roulstone

      This chapter suggests that to overcome the problem of disabled people’s ongoing disadvantage in mainstream employment and, therefore, society, a radical alternative strategy is required that poses a direct challenge to orthodox thinking on work, and associated policies that centre almost exclusively on disabled workers. Building on longstanding analyses from within the disability studies literature, it is argued that an holistic approach is needed that includes:

      the reconfiguration of the meaning of work for disabled people;

      the de-stigmatisation of associate welfare provision;

      that the theoretical and practical foundations for such an approach have already been laid (Barnes, 2000, 2003; Abberley,...

  12. TWENTY THREE Conclusions
    (pp. 329-334)

    In this brief postscript, we reflect on some of the key policy insights to flow from this book’s chapters. These empirical and theoretical insights have provided a detailed appraisal of a range of key disability and employment policies and have established the benefits and limitations of current policies. Given the broader objectives of translating new ideas into changing policy and practice the key policy points are laid out later in this chapter.

    Working futures?makes clear both the continuities and changes that marked the shift from neo-Conservative to New Labour governments. A continued commitment to making welfare conditional upon certain...

  13. Index
    (pp. 335-346)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 347-348)