Sick pay and housing overhaul planned to help disabled workers

An overhaul of sick pay and accessible, adaptable homes are among a package of measures announced by Theresa May to support the one in five working age people with a disability.

The prime minister believes that up to 300,000 new homes with higher standards of higher accessibility could be built each year.

She also wants reform of statutory sick pay so it focuses on flexibility and covering the lowest paid.

Mrs May said: “My determination to identify and tackle injustices, wherever they exist in society, remains as strong as ever.

“So I am proud to announce new measures to break down barriers faced by disabled people, whether in employment, housing or elsewhere.

“We all have a crucial role – businesses, government and civil society – in working together to ensure that disabled people get the support they need, and go as far as their talents can take them.”

Along with analysing how best meet the housing needs of disabled people, consultations are being launched into measures for employers to support people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Suggestions include offering small and medium employers a conditional rebate to support those who manage staff on sickness absence and help them get back to work.

Other changes under consideration include new employee rights to request workplace modifications on health grounds, and performance standards for services to disabled customers for utilities like energy, broadband and water.

A new Equalities Hub will study the barriers faced by disabled people, and will work closely with user groups and charities to put their views and experiences at the forefront of any new policy.

Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive at disability equality charity Scope, said half the UK’s 14 million disabled people feel excluded and are “too often shut out of work”.

“We have long called for a concerted effort from government to improve the lives of disabled people in this country,” he said.

“It is therefore positive to see recognition from government that a joined-up approach is needed and necessary.”

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