PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP says SMEs will need incentives to hire people with disabilities if we are to hit targets

Richard Graham (MP for Gloucester) has drawn attention to the opportunities for the government in developing incentives for employers (and especially SMEs) taking on employees with disabilities.

“If you look at our experience with SMEs in the last Parliament, when we were trying to quickly expand the number of apprenticeships being offered by businesses, the process was made much simpler by introducing an NI free measure for up to two apprentices,” noted the MP, “and if we want both to meet our target of attracting a million people with disabilities into work between 2015-2020, as well as generate 3 million apprentices – then we need more incentives for those with disabilities.”

Richard’s research revealed that the US, the Netherlands and Ireland had all, in different ways, provided tax credits for employers. So in DWP questions he asked the then-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb, if he would “consider extending the current exemption from employer national insurance contributions for apprentices both to additional apprentices and to full-time employees with disabilities, so that our tax system benefits employers who see the abilities as well as the disabilities of all [his] constituents.”

Stephen Crabb MP responded to the idea saying, “When it comes to closing the disability employment gap, I am absolutely clear that no options have been left off the table. We want to look at the widest possible range of solutions, including financial incentives such as our small employment offer, which will support small businesses to increase local job opportunities for disabled people.”

Richard first mentioned the idea in the Work and Pensions Select Committee during an evidence session on the disability employment gap. Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of the Essex Coalition of Disabled People, agreed with the idea.

Mike said: “I would fully advocate some of the initiatives that you are talking about as part of a wrap-around support to both employers as well as disabled people.”

Liz Sayce OBE, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK also spoke to the Committee, saying that employers of people with disabilities and those employees will need additional support for certain aspects of the job, including training. She agreed with Richard that a tax break to support this would be “very, very helpful…particularly with SMEs”.

In the last two years, the number of disabled people in work has increased by 365,000 and the government is committed to ensuring all disabled people have the opportunities and support that they need to get and keep a job.

Richard said, “I understand that the US, Ireland and the Netherlands use similar tax incentives to encourage businesses to employ disabled people. Apprenticeships provide important opportunities for young people so it is right that we encourage employers to hire young disabled apprentices too.”