What is the Work Matters to Me Campaign?
Work Matters to Me launched on 8th December 2016 to ask the Government to provide better employment support for people living with arthritis who want the opportunity to work, and a fairer welfare system for those who are not able to or cannot find work.
Why is this important?
Arthritis is the single biggest cause of pain, disability, and working days lost in the UK. Over 30 million working days are lost every year due to arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.
Arthritis Research UK estimates that the ‘arthritis employment gap’ is considerable, with the employment rate amongst people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions 20% lower than amongst people with no condition or disability.
That means that around 600,000 people with arthritis are currently missing out on the opportunity to work.
What we’re calling for:
There are two key areas that we believe are vital and must be addressed by future government plans:
1. Improve the support for people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions already in work so that they can stay in work for longer. This includes:
- Investing more in the Access to Work scheme so employers and employees can get help with the costs of adaptations to the equipment people use, fares to work if someone can’t use public transport, or a support worker or job coach to help someone in their workplace. This should include promoting the grants so people with arthritis and their employers are aware this support exists.
- Launching information campaigns and support so that employers gain a better understanding of the impact arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions can have on employees.
2. Improve the support people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions receive when they’re out of work or trying to find work. This includes:
- Ensuring that schemes such as the new ‘Personal Support Package’ proposed by the Government, specifically focus on people with arthritis. For example, making sure that Job Centre Plus work coaches and disability employment advisors receive musculoskeletal-specific training so they understand the condition and can properly address the needs of people with arthritis.
- Taking further steps to ensure that programmes designed to support people with arthritis to continue working, such as the Work Choice programme and the new Work and Health Programme, provide personalised, specific support for people with arthritis. We also believe the budget for these flagship government initiatives is at least on a par with the budget for previous government programmes.
- Supporting people who can’t work, or who are looking for work, with a fair and timely welfare system, which meets the needs of people with arthritis.
Progress so far
Over 300 of you contacted your local MP, the Department of Health and Department of Work and Pensions to highlight the ‘arthritis employment gap’ – the number of people excluded from work due to their condition.
On top of this, hundreds of you shared your experiences with us of working with arthritis, or being unable to work and reliant on the social care and welfare systems. We used these stories to inform local MPs about the impact of arthritis so they could better understand the situation their constituents are faced with, as well as featuring many of them as part of our official consultation response.
A huge thank you to everyone who wrote to their MP or shared a story.
With your help, we responded to the government’s consultation Improving Lives: The Work, Disability and Health Green Paper and are currently awaiting a response from government.
We can’t campaign without you. In order to improve things for people with arthritis, their friends and family, we need as many people as possible to support our campaigns. Please join our campaigner network to hear about what we’re up to and how you can get involved.
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