Department for Work and Pensions: Disability

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered at on 20 May 2024.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps their Department is taking to support the Disability Confident scheme; how many officials in their Department work directly on supporting that scheme; what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of that work in supporting the (a) recruitment and (b) retention of disabled people in their Department; and what further steps they are taking to support their Department’s recruitment and retention of disabled people.

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

DWP as part of its Policy portfolio is responsible for the administration of the Disability Confident Scheme – but this answer relates to how DWP as an employer uses and supports Disability Confident. DWP is committed to Disability Confident and back in November 2023 was re-accredited for the next three years as a Disability Confident Leader – the top-level award. In June 2023, 22% of DWP staff indicated that they had a disability (an increase of 3.7% compared to June 2021) and 13.6% of Senior Civil Servants in the department declared a disability (an increase of 1.6% compared to June 2021) – hence support in this space is a departmental priority.

There are no officials working specifically on Disability Confident outside of policy group in DWP – but we do have a Disability Lead working in our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing team who supported the co-ordination of the evidence.

As part of this submission DWP provided a large amount of evidence on the good practice that is happening with a focus on disability. This included but was not limited to:

  • A review of the Workplace Adjustments processes, with a focus on ensuring adjustments are quicker and easier to put in place.
  • Supporting our THRIVE network – an EDI Network focussed on supporting colleagues with a Disability or long-term limiting condition.
  • Ensuring products and services offered to colleagues are accessible – both physical spaces managed by estates and virtual digital spaces.
  • Establishing a centre of expertise for resourcing, which includes a team focused on diversity and inclusion in recruitment – the team leads on ensuring our recruitment processes are inclusive, fair and open for all.
  • All recruitment follows the fair, open and on merit principles and is name-blind to provide anonymity and prevent bias in the process. Specific guidance is also provided to hiring managers including DWP Recruitment of Disabled People Guide and Supporting Disabled Employees: Line Manager’s Best Practice Guide.
  • The department has been awarded Disability Confident Leader and RNIB Visibly Better Employer status which is promoted on Civil Service Jobs adverts, diverse jobs boards, social media, and Civil Service Careers websites.
  • Taking all reasonable steps to overcome any barriers that may impede people with any kind of disability including mental ill-health. Our recruitment process allows for reasonable adjustments to be instigated on an individual basis and considered at each stage of the recruitment process.
  • Trialling new approaches across the recruitment and selection process to understand their impacts on diversity outcomes. This results in new approaches being adopted where data shows they work such as the implementation of sharing interview questions in advance of interview into recruitment policy in June 2023.

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