The coalition’s savage attack on young disabled people


Having Aspergers Syndrome has led to me encountering challenges for most of my life be it in education or in wider society. Fortunately I have been able to successfully confront these challenges and move on with my head held high. However, there is one challenge that may take me a while to successfully confront and that is getting a job. I am not alone in feeling pessimistic about the chances of getting a job. Up and down the United Kingdom many young disabled people fear that they never get a job and that they will have to be on Job Seekers Allowance for a long time. Why is this? Why is there a pessimism amongst my disabled peers that getting a job may be near impossible to achieve?

Thanks to the actions of the UK Coalition Government we have seen massive, unjustified cuts in the public sector which means that jobs are scarce to come by unless you come from the wealthy elite and your father is friendly with those at the top of companies etc. We have also seen Iain Duncan Smith go to war on the welfare system and this has hit disabled people hard with many facing reduced support and many having their DLAs (Disability Living Allowance). Maria Miller MP, the Minister for Disabled People announce in the Commons that the Government will be closing 27 Remploy centres across the UK with the loss of 1700 jobs.This is a blatant attack on the disabled people in our country and my fear is that for many, especially the young disabled people, they will lose not only the marvellous support that they receive at the Remploy centres but will be gripped by a fear that they may never get another job, a job which provides a good supportive environment.

In terms of statistics we already know that youth unemployment is at 20% but what are the statistics for young people with a disability and who are unemployed? Well according to the Livability website they state that by the time disabled people reach the age of 26 they will be four times,yes four times, more likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled peers. This is completely unacceptable for a country such as ours. For young people with Aspergers Syndrome/Autism, like myself, only 15% of them and their adult peers are in work. Now isn’t that downright depressing? That means that 85% of autistic people in the United Kingdom have no job.

What angers me is that disabled young people, including myself, want to work. The government may like to think that we are lazy and rely on benefits but we genuinely do want to work.We can’t because of an incompetent government which thinks cutting jobs and debt is more important than providing jobs, training and apprenticeships for those young people with disabilities. My peers and I have got potential to do well but are increasingly frustrated that the government cannot, just cannot see this. We need all the help to get a job because it is hard. It is hard because employers will perhaps look for the more able people to work for them thus overlooking disabled people because, yes, they have a disability.

As a autism campaigner for many years I would like to see more awareness of disability amongst employers so that they can understand that having a disability does not mean that those who have a disability are incapable. That’s important but I would like to see the government stop attacking disabled people like they were imbeciles and start helping them.

By that I mean reversing the Remploy closures, introducing more support for disabled people in the workplace, ensuring that instead of cutting jobs and ruining our economy, that jobs are created which would in turn create economic growth and ensure that there were plenty opportunities of opportunities for young disabled people to get work. Unfortunately, I think the coalition government is hellbent on continuing its savage attack on young disabled people and my generation in general, and therefore it is absolutely essential, that if we are to get my peers and I into work, that we all play a part in fighting this coalition government all the way. We cannot, must not, let the coalition government get away with their reckless, cruel policies any longer.


By Dave Nicholson


Photo by Roger Blackwell