Bid for £4m submitted to create scheme helping Suffolk disabled adults into work

Gordon Jones said a �4m bid for funding had been submitted to develop the scheme Picture: JAMES FLET

Gordon Jones said a �4m bid for funding had been submitted to develop the scheme Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant

A bid for £4million funding has been lodged by Suffolk leaders as part of plans to create a dedicated scheme to help disabled adults into work.

Suffolk County Council and the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders board put in the bid for £4m European Social Funding to develop the programme, which aims to focus on supporting more than 3,000 adults across the county into work, and reduce the disability employment gap.

A report by education cabinet member Gordon Jones said: “In tandem, the programme of work will work closely with the health and skills system to ensure an integrated approach is adopted to tackling barriers to employment.”

The bid has been submitted and the outcome is expected in early June.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “Suffolk Public Sector Leaders want all Suffolk residents to be able to fulfil their potential and have the best quality of life.

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“We also want to strengthen Suffolk’s productivity.

“While the gap between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled residents in Suffolk outperforms national figures, we recognise that there is a huge amount of talent that isn’t currently being utilised.

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“The £4m would provide vital support to help unemployed adults with learning disabilities, mental health and muscular skeletal conditions into work.”

It is not yet clear how the scheme will work, but could include measures such as training opportunities, interview and CV workshops, and tie-ups with existing organisations such as Job Centre Plus.

A consultation event was held at IP-City Centre in Ipswich on May 16, where people could find out more about the initiative.

If the bid is approved, the programme will begin later this year in October and run until March 2021.

A report last year by the Equality and Human Rights Commission highlighted the extent of the problem, concluding that disabled people are being treated as “second-class citizens” with greater barriers for disabled people in finding work.

Less than half of disabled adults were in employment in the UK compared to 80% non-disabled.

Poverty, access to mental health care and housing and transport needs were also highlighted as barriers.

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