Leonard Cheshire calls for furlough extension and purple passports to protect jobs
A disability charity has called on the UK Government to introduce “purple passports” and extend furlough to avoid a winter jobs crisis.
Leonard Cheshire warns that unemployment among disabled people could rise sharply over the coming months.
The charity is urging ministers to commit to additional support for the sector in the government’s forthcoming spending review through a range of measures designed to protect workers.
These could include so-called purple passports, documents for disabled people outlining the support they require in the workplace, and an extension to furlough to ensure those who are shielding retain their jobs.
The charity is also calling for all employees to be given entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay and flexible working to be made available from day one of employment.
Other measures put forward include the scrapping of the five-week wait for initial Universal Credit payments and topping up the Employment Support and Disability Support allowances to deal with Covid-19 related hardship.
The charity said the continuation of its pioneering disabled student internship programme, Change 100, during the pandemic, shows that employers can adapt to avoid freezing out disabled jobseekers. Many interns were able to complete placements, and the programme opens to new applications on 23 September.
Gemma Hope, Leonard Cheshire director of policy, said: “For disabled people the squeeze on jobs is not a distant prospect on the horizon, it’s already here. Employment advisors at our charity have reported a rapid spike in competition for jobs, leading employers to hike requirements for even entry-level positions. This will make the jobs market extremely challenging for someone without a conventional CV.
“As in most downturns, disabled people risk being among the hardest hit. But the government can shift the narrative with the same bold approach as it took early in the pandemic, with novel measures to deal with our ‘new normal’.
“This need not be a winter of discontent for disabled people, if the government takes the right actions to protect livelihoods.”