Swansea’s efforts to promote employment equality for disabled people have been given the official seal of approval, after being named the UK’s first ‘disability confident’ city.

The Disability Confident campaign aims to debunk the myths around employing disabled people and encourage employers to take advantage of the wealth of talent available. The government believes every disabled person who wants to work should be able to, and aims to halve the gap between the disabled employment rate and the overall employment rate by 2020.

Swansea has been awarded this unique accolade thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response of local employers including Swansea Council, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Swansea University. Campaigners and businesses in the city have now set themselves the ambitious target of signing-up every single employer in the area.

In a Government statement released on Monday (29 June), Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said that Swansea is leading the way by becoming the UK’s first disability confident city, which he feels is something the whole community can be proud of.

“Swansea has laid down a challenge to other cities and towns to follow its lead,” said Tomlinson. “Disability Confident is about letting disabled people know that their skills and enterprise are recognised by employers, at the same time as encouraging firms to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce and disabled talent.

“The campaign will play a crucial role in achieving our aim to halve the disability gap, improving equality of opportunity and giving more disabled people the chance of a fulfilling career.”

More than 60 firms including Asda, Barclays and BT have signed up to Disability Confident and are putting the principles into practice by increasing the opportunities for disabled people.

The Disability Confident campaign, employment support funding through Access to Work, and reforms to disability and unemployment benefits have led to significant progress in increasing the number of disabled people in work. According to a Government statement, the most recent figures showed a rise of 238,000 over the past year – an average of 650 disabled people a day.

In total, more than 3.2 million disabled people are now in work compared to 2.9 million last year and the number of disabled people accessing the New Enterprise Allowance to set-up their own business has nearly doubled.


Disabled employment in numbers

The working age disability employment rate in the UK is now 46.3% (compared to 44.2% in from the same period in 2014, a 2.1 percentage point increase)

The non-disabled employment rate in the UK is now at 79.3% (compared to 78.2% for the same period in 2014, a 1.1 percentage point increase)

There is an employment rate gap between disabled and non-disabled people of 32.9 percentage points in the UK (compared to 34 percentage points from the same period in 2014, a 1.0 percentage point narrowing of the employment rate gap)

The Purple Pound

The ‘Purple Pound’, representing the total annual net income after housing costs of households containing a disabled person, was estimated at around £212 billion in 2012/13, and many employers have found that a good representation of disabled staff is the key to connecting with disabled customers.