Government urged to help disabled workers feel safer returning to the office

MINISTERS have been urged to do more to help disabled workers back to the office after an alarming survey found just one in seven feel safe returning.

Disability charity Scope warned that failure to act will leave disabled workers even further behind the rest of the workforce after already bearing the brunt of the economic crisis.

Scope is delivering a letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 30,000 disability campaigners, calling for a new deal for disabled people.

A survey by the charity of over 870 workers with a health problem or disability found that only one in seven felt safe about going to work.

Scope called on the Prime Minister to "stop forgetting his promise to disabled people", saying its study found that a third of disabled workers felt under pressure to go back to offices, largely because of pressure from employers and the Government.

Half of disabled workers are concerned about using public transport to commute to work, and one in four worry about losing their jobs because their employer cannot make it safe for them to go to their workplace, said Scope.

Chief executive Mark Hodgkinson said: "There are 14 million disabled people in the UK and they have been forgotten and sidelined by the Government throughout the pandemic.

"We are now hearing reports that millions could soon be asked to shield again, creating even more anxiety and confusion about how people can protect themselves while being able to work.

"Nobody should be forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills and putting food on the table.

"The Government cannot let disabled people bear the brunt of this economic crisis.

"In February, Boris Johnson wrote to his cabinet and said he wanted his Government to transform the lives of disabled people. He must stop forgetting his promise to disabled people.

"Just six months on, many disabled people have been hit hardest by the pandemic."

A Government spokesman said: "We understand this has been a very challenging time for many disabled people and we remain committed to supporting them, their families and their carers on safely returning to work.

"Huge efforts have been undertaken by employers to make workplaces Covid-secure and we want to see employers and employees discussing their working arrangement to ensure individual needs are taken into account.

"We are publishing advice and guidance for disabled people, making £3.7 billion available to local authorities to help address pressures on local services including adult social care, and pledging £750 million to ensure charities can continue their vital work.

"The Government is also committed to ensuring that disabled people have a say in determining our forthcoming national strategy and are working with them and disability organisations as part of its development."

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey accused the Government of breaching the law over their failure to protect disabled people during the crisis.

He told Boris Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday that he had been shown legal advice suggesting how the Government had breached the Coronavirus Act by reducing the rights of disabled people.

The PM insisted he was unaware of the allegation and promised to "clarify the matter" in the coming days.

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