The Work and Pensions Committee launches a new inquiry into assistive technology, following up on its inquiry into the Disability employment gap (DEG). This will lead to the second in what will be a series of reports aimed at getting the Government offering disabled people real opportunities to get into work.
"Assistive technology" includes a range of products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for people with disabilities.
This inquiry is about the role all types of assistive tech can play in removing barriers to work and helping disabled people stay in work. It could be accessible hardware and software, developments in apps, wearable technology - technology that helps people get to work, or use the building once they do, as well as things that facilitate work itself.
The Government response to our DEG report, also published today, reiterates a number of measures announced previously on supporting unemployed disabled people into work. It also announces some measures on in-work support, including:
- Providing more structured support and information for employers to encourage them to take on and retain disabled employees;
- Improvements to Access to Work, including a new expectation that awards will be portable, with claimants able to take equipment from job to job;
- A commitment to a "comprehensive cross-Government programme of analysis and research on incentives and expectations" for employers, reporting back on preliminary work in 2018.
Progress has been glacial
Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"Progress on reducing the disability employment gap in the last decade has been glacial, when we know there are lots of disabled people ready and willing to get into work.
We need a radical new system to incentivise employers to take on, retain and progress disabled workers, and assistive technology has an important role in that. We want to hear about employers, workers and would-be workers' experience with assistive tech, the problems, and innovative solutions."
Send us your views
This call for evidence can be provided in some accessible formats, please contact the Committee for more details. You can submit evidence through our evidence portal. The deadline for submissions is 19 January 2018.
The Committee welcomes submissions addressing any or all of the following questions:
- What role can assistive technology play in removing barriers to work and helping disabled people stay in work?
- How should the Government support the development of this technology, and are there any particular innovations it should look to support?
- Is Access to Work the most effective means of providing access to assistive technology? Should other funding models be considered?
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