I have been contacted recently about support for people who are deaf or have hearing loss in the workplace.
There are 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss, including almost five million of working age. However, I am aware that some, as a direct result of their condition can lose their job or have difficulty in finding one.
I understand Action on Hearing Loss are calling for improved employment support for those who are deaf and those who suffer from hearing loss. I support this objective. The Government needs to do much more to tackle the barriers to work faced by people with disabilities. I am aware that the campaign's research has highlighted that 63% of all business leaders had never heard of Access to Work. I believe that the Access to Work programme, which provides practical advice and support to both disabled people and their employers, should be expanded.
More widely, I think that organisations with over 250 people should be required to publish the number of disabled people that they employ annually in order to raise awareness of disability and work issues. I also believe that the Government should ensure that specialist disability employment advisers are available in Job Centres to offer support.
In October 2016, the UK Government set out its proposals to support people with disabilities to find or to stay in work. The consultation on Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper closed in February 2017 and the UK Government is currently considering the submissions. I can assure my constituents that I will await the publication of its response and follow progress on this matter closely.