The gender pay gap debate has failed to address those with disabilities. As one of Britain’s longest established charities, we have worked tirelessly to change attitudes to disabled employment for over 75 years. It’s terribly sad we are still having to fight the same fight. We had Polio; there is nothing wrong with our brains and in the 50s, our patron Joe Fisher MBE showed we could all do many a mainstream job, to a fantastic standard, simply given the opportunity.
A training centre and hostel in Jesmond (Newcastle) provided a chance to live and learn transferable skills, preparing us for ‘regular’ jobs; proving no one with a so-called disability was unemployable. Being paid the same as the able-bodied in the same role was a ground-breaking idea – a lesson that seems to have been lost 50 years on.
Securing mainstream employment with equal pay gave people with disabilities independent lives and self-respect. It lines the Treasury’s pockets with healthy tax revenues, too. In some ways, we have come so far, so it is sobering that the disability pay gap is now 13.6 percent. There are no winners in this, just degrees of loss. It is in the interest of everyone to correct this scandalous injustice. Anyone who needs The British Polio Fellowship’s help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship