HC Deb 12 November 1980 vol 992 cc187-9W
Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the fall in placing disabled people in employment in the second and third quarters of 1980 compared with the same two quarters in 1979; how the fall in each case compares with the fall in total placings: and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jim Lester

[pursuant to his reply, 10 November 1980, c. 16]: I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) that information on total placings of disabled people in employment is not available because the number of disabled people who obtained employment through the self-service sections of jobcentres and employment offices cannot be separately identified. However, the fall in placing achieved by the MSC's specialist resettlement service in the second and third quarters of 1980 compared with the same two quarters in 1979 was 21.5 per cent. and 36 per cent. respectively. The comparable falls for total placings excluding self-service were 11 per cent. and 19 per cent.

I am concerned by these figures. The growth in unemployment amongst disabled people, which has not been as fast as amongst able bodied people, suggests

programme which the Secretary of State announced on 14 February would be expanded this year in order to admit over a quarter of a million young people throughout the country by next March.

that employers are in general anxious to retain the disabled people they already employ. But the figures I have given suggest that once unemployed the disabled person finds it increasingly difficult to get a new job. The reason for this are complex and not just related to disability. The group characteristics of unemployed able-bodied and disabled people are quite different. The proportion of men to women is greater amongst unemployed disabled peole, who also tend to be older and proportionatelly more of them are looking for semi skilled and unskilled occupations. As will be realised, older unskilled men are one of the groups who are finding most difficulty in getting new jobs.

Notwithstanding those qualifications, the results have been very disappointing when compared with the record level of such placings achieved by MSC last year. The significant difference that has taken place since last year is the sharp decline in the number of vacancies obtained by jobcentres and employment offices, bringing increased competition for disabled people from younger able bodied unemployed people and the opportunity for employers to be more selective.

I support the MSC in its promotion of the "Fit for Work" campaign and I stress again the need for employers to look carefully and fairly at the abilities of all groups of disabled people when recruiting new employees.

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