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Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, and Esther McVey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, signed up local employers to the Disability Confident scheme during an event at Huw’s constituency office in Bexhill last Thursday (26 July).—Office of Huw Merriman MP, 31 July 2018

Disability Confident event at Bexhill constituency office

Huw Merriman held the Disability Confident event at his Bexhill constituency office following the launch of the ‘100 Day Community Challenge’ to MPs to sign up local employers to Disability Confident.  The challenge was launched by Disability Minister, Sarah Newton MP, in early July.

Huw was delighted to welcome Secretary of State, Esther McVey, to the event where she spoke to local employers about the scheme. Local DWP staff explained the scheme to local employers and guest speaker Fern Lulham, who is registered blind, encouraged employers to seek out the talent pool of disabled employees who can help grow their business.

Disability Confident challenges perceptions of what it means to employ a disabled person and promotes the benefits of being inclusive in the workplace. The scheme, developed by disabled people, employers and disability organisations, is designed to encourage employers to think differently about disability and to take action to improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled employees.

Esther McVey created Disability Confident back in 2013 when she was Minister for Disabled People, so she was delighted to visit Bexhill and Battle as Secretary of State to work alongside Huw Merriman, local MP and her PPS to get his local businesses on board. She said “I was delighted to meet so many local businesses from Bexhill and Battle who were keen to sign up to the Disability Confident Scheme. Disability Confident is a fantastic scheme that portrays the wide range of talents that disabled people can bring to the workforce, and how employers can tap into this.”

“It was great to see a range of businesses at the event, from larger employers like Hastings Direct, Littlewood Fencing and Ashridge Court Care Centre to smaller employers such as The Pelham Trust and Carroll’s greengrocers. Amongst others they all signed up on the day to become Disability Confident employers once they’d heard more about scheme from local DWP staff and the inspirational Fern Lulham who spoke about her own experience of finding employment.”

Speaking after the event Huw said “I was really pleased to welcome so many local employers to my constituency office so they could find out more about the Disability Confident scheme and I’m delighted that they are all now in the process of becoming Disability Confident employers.  More and more employers are recognising the value that disabled people can bring to their business and to their bottom lines. But many employers still lack the confidence, knowledge, processes and skills they need to support those disabled staff effectively. This scheme helps to break down those barriers to employment. I hope every employer will recognise that the commitment to signing up is equivalent to complying with the latest in employment law.”

Jon Hobden, Managing Director of Littlewood Fencing commented “It was great to see our local MP supporting the Disability Confident Employer Scheme, Fern Lulham gave a fantastic speech which highlighted to me the small changes we need to make as a business to tap into a broader talent pool. We signed up to the Disability Confident scheme and look forward to the benefits it can bring to our business.”

Huw hopes to sign up over 50 local employers to the Disability Confident Scheme between now and October. For more information about the scheme please contact Huw’s office on 01424 734910, email huw.merriman.mp@parliament.uk or visit https://disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk/