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Civil Service Task Force Report on Disability 13/12/2011

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

The Cabinet Office has just published a report on Disability. This has come about following analysis of the People Survey (2009) which found that disabled Civil Servants were three times more likely than others to report that they had encountered some form of bullying, harassment and discrimination. The Cabinet Office set up the Civil Service Disability Task Group and commissioned a study “Why are engagement levels so low among staff with disabilities?”

A Disturbing Picture

In order to gather the necessary evidence the project contacted over 800 people and ran a number of focus groups across the Civil Service in the UK, including DWP. The report states that the evidence gathered provided a „disturbing picture of the day-to-day experience of staff with disabilities‟.
The report found there were 5 recurring themes
– Failures in policy implementation
– Reasonable Adjustments
– Lack of understanding and disability awareness
– Insufficient access to expert advice on disability
– Inconsistent acknowledgement of the value of staff with disabilities

This comes as no surprise to PCS, we have long argued that staff with disabilities get a raw deal in all these areas and particularly with attendance management and the provision of reasonable adjustments.

Access to Work

The report also highlights that the changes in delivery of Access to Work have not produced the expected benefits. It goes on to say that as adjustments are now funded from local budgets this has caused difficulties in the provision of adjustments and there were significant failings in the provision of reasonable adjustments.
PCS has been arguing this point for some time with DWP and has been pressing for a centralised budget to resource reasonable adjustments, funding from a local budget simply doesn‟t work and has a created another barrier in their provision.


The report makes three recommendations
– Improve the approach to reasonable adjustments
– Ensure that line managers have access to consistent advice and expertise
– Sharing of best practice
These recommendations include recognition that there has to be positive action by departments to improve engagement, there has to be specific training for staff and in particular raising awareness of mental health issues.

A need for Positive Action

DWP is signed up to the Two Ticks Scheme and gives a commitment to recruiting, retaining and supporting a diverse workforce and to promoting an environment that is free from discrimination, bullying and harassment. While this report is cross government we believe that there is plenty of room for improvement in DWP. Reps regularly report the difficulties they face with protecting disabled members jobs; getting reasonable adjustments put into place; and lack of training by line managers and general disability awareness. The report goes on to highlight the large cost of Employment Tribunals when they get it wrong, the average cost of a DD ET award being £27,000, and a reasonable adjustment averages £300.

Next Steps

The report concludes that “there are serious systemic problems in the way in which staff with disabilities are treated which is leading to low engagement levels and high rates of bullying and harassment and that this needs urgent attention”.
In the light of the report which reveals that staff are being seriously let down we will be asking management for their plans to improve their treatment of disabled staff with a long term sustainable solution rather than just tinkering around the edges.
We welcome the findings of this report and will be pressing DWP to take action. The report is accompanied by a letter from Sir Gus O‟Donnell who says that the report „provides a real opportunity to take action and positively change the experiences of disabled staff. . „. PCS hopes that the DWP will take urgent steps to ensure that disabled staff are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as all staff.
Reps may be interest in reading the report which has been published on the Cabinet Office website as follows – http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/civil-service-task-group-disability-resources
Chris Cuthbert – DWP Group Assistant Secretary

Dave Wilkinson – Negotiations Officer



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