It surely follows that an organisation bidding for public contracts to provide employment support to disabled people on the basis of its expertise in doing so should have an exemplary record of employing disabled people? This would provide evidence of their belief in disabled people’s potential, their own organisation’s commitment to the goal of halving the disability employment gap and be a powerful signal both to the disabled people they support and the employers they strive to engage. Moreover there is growing evidence of the powerful role peer support can play in successfully supporting disaled people into sustainable employment (see the forthcoming report from Disability Rights UK and the Work Foundation).
Yet as far as I am aware there is no requirement for organisations bidding to run such services to demonstrate any of the above. Moreover, I have struggled to find information on the numbers of disabled people employed by some of the main specialist employment support providers or the role of peer support in their methodology (the subject, I hope, of a future bit of research).
We are advised that the Work Programme and Work Choice are no more where disabled people are concerned, but we await the Disability, Health and Work White Paper to discover what if anything might replace them. This strikes me as an opportunity to secure criteria in future tender specifications to run employment programmes that give preferred contractor status to organisations with a demonstrable record of employing disabled people, especially in front line roles.