Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Disability and employment in Scotland

The Green Paper Pathways to Work: Helping People into Employment (DWP, 2002) set out the Government's proposals for major reforms of the Incapacity Benefits system, whereby future claimants would be assessed in relation to the amount and type of work they were able to undertake, rather than being permanently certified as unable to undertake any work. The need for better retention initiatives and systems to advise people about retraining/support opportunities was also highlighted in the document.


Initiatives within Scotland have also emphasised the links between the employment of disabled people and economic regeneration. Local Enterprise Companies run Skillseekers and Training for Work Programmes, and Social Inclusion Partnerships sponsor a range of initiatives to support intermediate labour market opportunities. Local Authorities and Health Boards often work jointly to provide supported employment opportunities to people with learning difficulties and mental health problems.

Research and development in relation to the employment of disabled people in Scotland is complicated by the fact that employment and social security policy is reserved to Westminster, whereas responsibility for training and local economic development rests with the Scottish Parliament. As a result, it is often difficult to obtain disaggregated data on the impact of initiatives such as the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) (see, for example Arthur et al, 1999), which does not explore the impact of the New Deal on disabled people in Scotland. It has also been much easier to obtain GB rather than Scottish statistics on participation in and outcomes of DWP employment services for disabled people. It is therefore extremely important to identify key areas for research and policy development which may be pursued by Scottish agencies, as well as summarising the Scottish data which needs to be disaggregated from United Kingdom/Great Britain statistics.

This project reviews GB and Scottish policy and research on disability and employment.

The Government has made clear that employment policy lies at the heart of its social inclusion strategy and the Green Paper New Ambitions for Our Country: A New Contract for Welfare (DSS, 1998) underlined the Government's commitment to 'work for those who can, security for those who cannot'. The Green Paper committed the Government to:

  • introduce effective civil rights for disabled people
  • remove the barriers to work and give active help to disabled people who wish to work
  • fundamentally reform Incapacity Benefit (IB) for future claimants
  • ensure the welfare state recognises the extra costs faced by disabled people


Scottish Executive Equalities Unit

Project team

Professor Sheila Riddell, University of Edinburgh; Dr Pauline Banks, University of Glasgow

Start date

1 October, 2003

End date

31 December, 2004

Relevant document