A week last Monday Huw Merriman, the MP for Bexhill and Battle raised an important question under the title of Autistic People in the Workforce and after his initial question “What steps she is taking to support autistic people into the workforce.” he then also referred to how “The Office for National Statistics highlighted back in November last year that, tragically, only 25% of autistic adults are in any form of meaningful employment despite record job vacancies. What can we do to get the regional adjustments in place so employers really take this seriously?” The person he was speaking to was Chloe Smith who is the Minister of State for DWP and here responses are below. Clearly the National Autistic Society is a significant Charity but it covers the whole of the UK and its current funding is £95m which is not insignificant but if the Government is working with them to this extent, perhaps we can ask the Government to provide more funds for them so that they can achieve more. Here is the question and answer session and this is the response from Chloe Smith.
First response: We are working with the National Autistic Society to test ways to make jobcentres more inclusive of people with autism; this test will inform changes to the wider jobcentre network. We encourage employers to consider autistic people for roles and can offer support where needed to Access to Work.
Second response: There is a lot that we can do together and this is an effort for the Government, for employers and for others such as the National Autistic Society and the all-party group on autism, to which my hon. Friend gives a lot of time. He asks what we are doing: we are engaging with employers through the disability confident scheme; we are supporting jobseekers, workers and employers through Access to Work; and, as I have said, we are making our jobcentres and youth hubs inclusive in the way they ought to be.
Perhaps as well as the Government providing more funds for the National Autistic Society, they could explain how Access to Work and also Disability Confident are being used to communicate with businesses across the UK as it is not something that is well known in a number of settings. Also perhaps MPs such as Huw Merriman could work with his colleagues such as the Sussex MPs to raise this theme in their settings?