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Work. 2003;20(1):45-51.

Employment and disability in the United Kingdom: an outline of recent legislative and policy changes.

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Rehabilitation Resource Centre, St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery, City University, London, UK.


In 1996, a paper (Floyd, 1996), on the Vocational Rehabilitation Services in the United Kingdom, reviewed the way in which the services had evolved during the past 50 years, since the end of the second world war. The author described the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 and the development of rehabilitation and placement services and sheltered workshops over the years. He also gave readers a glimpse of possible future changes, and, in particular, speculated that the UK might follow the United States in the professional training and development of employment and vocational rehabilitation personnel. This paper describes first the main services currently provided by Government and then outlines the quite significant legislative changes and one major policy development that have taken place in the past five years. This includes an overview of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which came into force in late 1996, a brief look at some of the early outcomes, and describes the latest proposals for amendment. A description of the major policy development (New Deal for Disabled People) is also given but it is too soon to report on its effectiveness. Whether the changes will lead to any lasting improvement in labour market participation by disabled people, remains an unanswered question; certainly, up to the present, from a statistical point of view, it seems that the position remains much the same (Curtis J, forthcoming). The paper concludes with discussion of the latest key issues and returns to the question raised in 1996 about the training of employment and rehabilitation personnel.

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