Too many employers 'have wrong idea' about hiring disabled people, says charity

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More than one in five managers say they would be less likely to employ a disabled person, believing they would struggle to do the job or citing concerns about the cost of workplace adjustments, a "shocking" survey reveals.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability charity said its poll of more than 500 employers showed the "serious discrimination and stereotypical" views faced by disabled people trying to get a job.

Three out of five of those questioned said they would be worried about the cost of employing a disabled person, while one in four said ensuring the interview process was accessible was a "barrier".

Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: "Employers of all sizes have a huge role to play in closing the disability employment gap.

"Sadly, too many still seem to have the wrong idea about taking on disabled people.

"Disabled people can face barrier after barrier in getting a job as a result of attitudes that have no basis.

"We work with some of the biggest companies in the country. Given the chance and the right support we know disabled people flourish, making huge contributions to the success of companies and the UK economy as a whole."

The charity gave the example of a 38-year-old man seriously injured in the 2005 London bombings who said he had heard "every excuse under the sun" once employers knew about his disabilities.

"I heard things like 'you're over-qualified', or 'you would get bored'. Up until then I had been a perfect candidate.

"People in companies don't set out to discriminate but there are so many myths about disabled people that are accepted and need to be dispelled," he said.

The charity described the findings of its survey as "shocking", adding that by the age of 26, disabled people were four times more likely to be out of work or not in education than non-disabled people.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "It is unacceptable for employers to discriminate against disabled people, and everyone should be able to enjoy the opportunities that work can bring.

"We've set out a commitment to see one million more disabled people in work in by 2027 to ensure employers are not missing out on this huge untapped pool of talent.

"We're taking steps to make more people aware of the support available, including our Access to Work scheme - a further 25,000 people benefited from the scheme last year, an increase of 8% from 2015/16.

"We're also working directly with employers through our disability confident scheme which helps employers do more to recruit and retain disabled people."

James Taylor, head of policy at disability charity Scope, said: "These findings are extremely disheartening and show just how widespread misguided attitudes towards disabled workers really are.

"Employers who buy into these outdated views need to realise they are shooting themselves in the foot by failing to tap into the huge pool of disabled talent."