Could local charities hold the key to closing the disability employment gap?

A Cornish MP is calling on the Government to use the expertise of local charities to help people with disabilities find work reports the Plymouth Herald.

St Ives MP Derek Thomas argues non-for-profit organisations are already providing the kind of training and support crucial to securing jobs. And he is hoping they will be given a more prominent role in Government policy as ministers begin to draw up new plans to boost employment.

The Conservative Party pledged to halve the disability employment gap and get 1 million more people into work as part of their 2015 general election manifesto.

This came off the back of the Government's Disability Confident campaign, which set out to challenge attitudes towards disability and remove barriers to training and recruitment.

The latest reports indicate 150,000 more people with disabilities are in work than a year ago, but ministers admit little progress has been made in "closing" the employment gap between those with disabilities and those without.

The Department for Work and Pensions recently announced it will publish a Green Paper later this year, outlining plans to improve its progress towards these targets.

In anticipation of this report, Mr Thomas has called for a Westminster Hall debate to highlight the work that charities are already doing to help people with both physical and learning disabilities find work.

During the debate, which takes place today, he will point to the work of local groups like Manna's Diner, Cornwall People First and Rebuild South West as examples of how charities can help individuals to gain confidence, learn skills and "secure meaningful employment".

He will argue that these organisations "are ready and primed to address the barriers to employment that exist for people who have disabilities".

And he will ask that they receive "significant consideration and support" to continue their "effective" community work.

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