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Almost 70,000 working age people in Wales who are disabled or have a health condition don’t have a job but want to work.

The Citizens Advice service in Wales helped over 11,000 people with employment issues from January to December 2016. 25% of these clients have a disability or long term health condition.

Research published today by the national charity; ‘Work and Health in Wales’ finds there are a range of  barriers that disabled people or those with health conditions can face when looking for employment. The report highlights some of the many challenges those with disabilities or health problems face when looking for and trying to stay in work. Analysis undertaken by the charity shows in Wales disabled people or those with a long term health condition are  3 times more likely to fall out of work in any given year compared with those who are not disabled or do not have a health condition.  The charity is calling for more support from the benefits system and from employers.

Dealing with uncertain or insufficient income caused by benefit problems and delays can make it much harder for people to concentrate on work or look for a job, especially when they’re also managing a health condition. Making sure people can get benefits reliably and quickly is a crucial first step in supporting people with disabilities or long term health conditions to find a job and remain in employment. Citizens Advice evidence also shows that people who are disabled or have a health condition still experience too much bad practice and discrimination by employers, and are more likely to require support on an issue relating to pay and entitlements or dismissal than people without a disability or health condition. Issues relating to sick leave, sick pay and unfair dismissal are all more common. Many employers could benefit from having more information, guidance and support on how to better manage employees with health conditions and design jobs for a more inclusive workplace.

The evidence finds that failure to address these issues can result in someone’s health condition worsening which only adds further pressure onto the individual concerned, as well as pushing up demands and costs on health and social care services.

David from Flintshire turned to the charity for help: (name changed to protect anonymity)

He had worked as a plumber for the same employer for over 10 years. Following an extended period of sickness due to mental health problems he returned to work. His medication makes him drowsy and constantly tired. He was subject to disciplinary proceedings after being found asleep in his work van. At the dismissal appeal he asked for reasonable adjustments which would allow him to be picked up and driven to his work appointments, as is the case for some of his colleagues. This adjustment was denied and he lost his appeal. His confidence has been severely impacted as a result. He is now unemployed and struggling financially. His mental health has also worsened.

Fran Targett, Director, Citizens Advice Cymru said: “The health and disability health gap needs to be reduced  and can only be done with help from both employers and government. “Little things like flexibility around medical appointments and being able to change work hours can make a big difference. Also, better consideration and support from the benefits system must be given in order to help those with medical conditions and disabilities. “As part of our work on income security, Citizens Advice is looking at how to improve the financial and practical support from the UK and Welsh Governments to help people with a disability or health condition who can work, to find a job and remain in employment.”

For more information contact

Alun Thomas 07726 902624 or 07973 690049


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