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Here’s a mixed message:
The Conservative-led Coalition government wants us all to believe that the number of disabled people getting support to get or keep a job is rocketing.
But the businessman it is using to front its PR campaign founded a company that has been convicted of discrimination against the disabled in the recent past.
According to the government’s press release, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of Easyjet, said: “Already over 100,000 disabled entrepreneurs employ an equivalent number of people in their business start-ups.
“I encourage disabled people out there who have a germ of an idea for a business, but are unsure of how to go about it, to take advantage of the support the government has on offer to help you make your business fly.”
But in 2011, EasyJet told a boy with muscular dystrophy that he could not fly – because his electric wheelchair was too heavy for baggage handlers.
And in 2012, Paralympics presenter Sophie Morgan received similar treatment.
It seems, if you are disabled, EasyJet’s business has been to keep you on the ground.
The government reckons the number of people using its Access to Work scheme has risen by more than 10 per cent, to 31,230 – and has claimed that disabled people are moving into jobs, training or work placements at a rate of more than 100 every working day.
But the press release does not elaborate on how many of these jobs are permanent, how many are merely temporary placements, how many are self-employment start-ups that will receive funding for a short period and will fold when the grants run out, and so on.
Apparently it is all part of a campaign launched by David Cameron last year, called DisabilityConfident.
From what’s on show here, it seems disabled people have precious little reason to be confident.
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