Crucial gains for disability rights secured by the business community must not be reversed post-Brexit due to a lack of planning and preparation, the Business Disability Forum has warned.
According to a survey of 1,611 people, including business-owners, run by Business Disability Forum with YouGov in January, high proportions of people believe there will no impact on disability employment and three-quarters of business-owners think that there would be no effect on their ability to cater for the needs of disabled people.
But Diane Lightfoot, chief executive officer at Business Disability Forum, warned that numerous economic forecasts point to a “considerable impact” on the UK during the transition out of EU Membership.
“Any rise in unemployment is likely to hit disabled people harder than it will the general population and risks growing the already huge disability employment gap. Likewise, a squeeze on budgets could slow progress in securing accessibility in our public places, transportation networks, and businesses.
“Business Disability Forum is urging businesses to prepare for changes to the economic landscape after Brexit so that they are ready not only to mitigate risks but also to seize opportunities.”
Business Disability Forum unveiled the research to senior figures from the business world last week at an even that sought to examine ways that the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit could be approached constructively, securing the vital gains for disabled people made over the last twenty-five years for a post-Brexit UK.
Ms Lightfoot continued: “Approaching this challenge in the right ways could bring great dividends for businesses. The potential loss of a migrant labour workforce would mean that businesses must work much harder to attract the talent that they need – and that could be a real opportunity for disabled people who are still hugely under-represented in the workforce, with just 49% of disabled people in employment as compared to 80% of the general population.
“Similarly, this could be the perfect time to look at tapping into a massive domestic market, the Purple Pound, valued at £249 billion. The change in markets that could come post-Brexit means that businesses must plan to attract a new customer base.”