Businesses including Virgin Trains, Liverpool Football Club and BT will be in Manchester today (March 19) to learn about the untapped potential of thousands of disabled people in the North West.

More than 500,000 disabled people of working age in the region are currently not in employment.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning will join Falklands veteran Simon Weston at Disability Confident – one of the first conferences of its kind – to promote the talents of disabled people and their huge value to the North West’s economy.

Up to 140 business leaders, public sector organisations, politicians and community leaders are attending. Delegates also include the BBC, ITV and Sainsbury’s.

The employment rate for disabled people in the UK has increased to 45 per cent since the 90s but the Government is working with employers to boost this further.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said: “Research shows that more disabled people cite employers’ attitudes as a barrier to work than transport.

“One in five of us has a disability and although the employment rates for disabled people have increased gradually over the years, we know that all too often their talents are left untapped.” 

Research shows there are significant benefits to be had by employing someone with a disability.  They can help increase the number of Britain’s 12m disabled customers who use a business or service, and they tend to stay in their job for longer.

Disability Confident is part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to increase employment rates among disabled people.

Falklands veteran and businessman Simon Weston said: “What I want employers to take away from this conference is that disabled people can be some of your best employees.

“We’re some of the most determined workers, who go the extra mile to secure results.

“To overlook the skills and talents of people because they have a physical or mental disability could ultimately cost you money.”

Disability Confident is organised by the Department for Work and Pensions and co-sponsored by Placeability, de Poel and Fujitsu.

CEO of Placeability, sister company of de Poel, Matthew Sanders said:  “There are huge benefits to creating a diverse workforce and the North-West Disability Confident Event is an excellent opportunity to showcase the great work already taking place within some organisations.

“Being an inclusive and disability confident employer makes great business sense, ensuring your business has access to the widest possible talent base.

“Placeability is dedicated to giving disabled people in the UK the support they deserve and educating businesses in what it means to be Disability Confident, so that they can harness the skills of this important talent-pool.”

COO of Fujitsu UK and Ireland, Gavin Bounds said: ”As a strong supporter of the Business Disability Forum and a founding member of the Technology Taskforce, dedicated to improving accessibility to IT for disabled people, Fujitsu is proud to be hosting the North West Region Disability Confident event.”