Army approach could help Government halve disability employment gap, new report finds

19 October 2016

Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI), the national armed forces charity, has called on the Department for Work and Pensions to fund an expansion of LifeWorks.

This award-winning employment support programme that has helped nearly 600 long-term unemployed military veterans into work over the last five years.

An evaluation report of LifeWorks by the Learning and Work Institute has found that the course has delivered exceptional results with 83% of delegates finding some form of employment, education or training, despite 79% having a health condition or disability. What’s more, 77% of those who found work were in full-time employment.

These results are particularly impressive when put into context of the Government’s current Work Programme, which sees only 33% of its delegates finding employment.

Now, RBLI is looking to grow LifeWorks beyond ex-services personnel to help the government meet its aim of halving the disability employment gap. Just 47% of disabled people are in employment – as opposed to 80% of non-disabled people.

Halving this gap would bring 1.2 million disabled people into the workplace, yet there has been little reduction since 2010.

Achieving this requires a serious commitment to equipping disabled people for work, however RBLI believes that the Government’s current investment in employment schemes does not meet its ambition.

RBLI is now calling for £750,000 of investment from DWP to fund a pilot of the LifeWorks scheme for people in the wider community who are unemployed, particularly those with disabilities and health conditions.

If successful, the charity aims to work with DWP to scale up the programme in order to help reduce unemployment and halve the disability employment gap across the UK.

Steve Sherry CMG OBE, Chief Executive, RBLI said:

“Since 1919 our mission has been to support Britain’s bravest, empowering them to return to society and find fulfilling work. There are still many Veterans out there who need our support and who we are passionate about supporting, however, I see no reason why our work should be limited to those who have served in the military. We are incredibly proud of LifeWorks, and even prouder of the achievements of those who have completed the course, our ambition now is to extend this service to another group of brave Britons: those living with disabilities and health conditions.

“It is unacceptable that in today’s society, disabled people who want to work struggle to find the right opportunities. Today RBLI is asking for £750,000 from DWP to launch a wider pilot of LifeWorks, with the aim of rolling it out to support disabled people across the UK.  To date the Government’s investment in work programmes has not matched the ambitious targets it has set itself. We want to help change that.”

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, The Learning and Work Institute said:

“LifeWorks has made a real difference to the lives of ex-services personnel who have struggled to return to the workplace. Our evaluation shows that the programme is particularly effective at supporting veterans with health conditions. The Government has a welcome commitment to halving the disability employment rate gap. RBLI and LifeWorks can play an important role in delivering that, and applying the lessons more widely to people with health problems and disabilities.”