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People with disabilities in employment

Published Thursday, August 16, 2018

This note summarises the key statistics available on disabled people in employment in the UK.

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Note: The Office for National Statistics did not publish employment figures for disabled people in November 2017 and February 2018 due to concerns over disability data. Although the ONS has published updated figures in May and August 2018, they have raised concerns over the accuracy of the figures for July-September 2017 onwards, and are continuing their investigations into an apparent discontinuity within the figures.


Headline Figures

There were an estimated 3.8 million people of working age (16-64) with disabilities in employment in April-June 2018, an employment rate of 50.7%. The employment rate for people without disabilities was 81.1%.

368,000 people with disabilities of working age were unemployed. People with disabilities have an unemployment rate of 8.8%. The unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 3.4%.

3.3 million people with disabilities of working age were economically inactive. These people were not in work and not looking for work. The economic inactivity rate for those with disabilities was 44.4%.

Employment Gaps

What is commonly referred to as the ‘disability employment gap’ is the difference in the employment rate of people with disabilities and people without disabilities. People with disabilities had an employment rate 30.4 percentage points lower than people without disabilities in April to June 2018.

For all health conditions people with disabilities had lower employment rates than those without disabilities. Less than a quarter of people with learning difficulties, a speech impediment or mental health conditions were in employment.

Government Policy

The Conservative Party 2017 manifesto pledged to get “1 million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years”.

To achieve this goal there would have to be 4.5 million people in employment with disabilities by 2027, a growth of 18% on current levels.

In November 2017, the Government set out its strategy on how it intends to get a million more disabled people into employment in the Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability white paper.



Commons Briefing papers CBP-7540

Author: Andy Powell

Topics: Employment, Employment schemes

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